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Writing Class 101 - the Process

The more I write, the more I like to pretend like writing is really difficult in order to lend an air of legitimacy to what I do for a living.

However, since no one seems to be buying the act anyway, I thought I'd share a peek behind the curtain at what really happens when I sit down at my keyboard to type some more of this fantastical nonsense.

Writing 101 - the Process by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV

Every writer has a Process - a series of steps, habits, or techniques they repeat each time they write - and every writer likes to think their Process is really the secret to their success. That's why it's a capitalized "Process," and not just an ordinary, everyday process like data "processing" (which I've also done) or a thought "process" (which I have not yet personally tried).

For example, some people create detailed outlines, complete with Roman numerals, before they even start a story. Some begin at the end and work their way backwards, while others just ramble on a tangent and consider themselves finished when they get tired and have to take a nap.

My Process starts with a very vague idea for a topic, and absolutely no concept of a conclusion.
Note: Those of you who've read my blog before probably aren't surprised that I rarely have a point.
If I get stumped along the way, I collect words and phrases related to my chosen subject that I might be able to use throughout the piece. Since I have a terrible memory, I usually type them at the bottom of my document for easy reference.
Tip: If, like me, you typically have 429 tabs open on your browser at any given time, I highly recommend you make sure 427 of those are Thesaurus.com. Even the best writers usually don't bother having much of a vocabulary.
As I write, I randomly sprinkle these words in. This creates the illusion that I'm staying on topic.

Sometimes I type something that I think is just marvelous, except that it doesn't make any sense whatsoever in that particular sentence. In that case, I cut it out and paste it at the bottom of the page with the other stuff, in hopes I can work it in later.

I call those ideas my "scraps." Like, say you're making dinner and you chop up too much onion. You don't want to waste it, so sometimes you'll toss more into the dish, but then you have to pick some out because otherwise the onion-y-ness is going to make your entire family's breath so overwhelmingly rancid that you'll have to make everyone sleep in the yard. See? Those extra words are the delicious but potentially useless tidbits that may or may not make it into the main course. The scraps!

Sort of.

Note: I suck at metaphors and I'm even worse at cooking, which is why cooking metaphors are not generally part of my Process.
Maybe I can explain it better with an example. For my latest post on In The Powder Room (one of my finest, most mature pieces of work, I don't mind telling you), these were the leftover scraps that I didn't use:

slow clap
let your tush talk
unsavory, offensive
toot vapors aroma vile contaminated rank heinous scandalous
rump tush can buns
lingerie bvds jockeys intimates

All excellent material, I think we can agree - nevertheless, I had to scrap it all. I employed a similar Process for the title of this particular article; unfortunately I could only use one, so the rest were left with the scraps. I had to enlist my kids to help me this time, since the post involves one of their main areas of expertise; see if you can tell which contributions were theirs:

Poot Pollution
Cleaning the Squeaky Wheel
Un-cutie Pa-toot-y
Cutting the Designer Cheese
Skunks Aren't the Only Things That Smell
Unstink Your Undies
Who Put A Coin In the Delicious-Smelling Fart Machine?
Unpoo Your Underoos
My butt lives in a hut
It burn, burns, burns - the ring of farts
From Catapooper to Butt-erfly

Well, I'm guessing that's probably all the sophisticated art-learning you can stand for one day. Class dismissed! Your homework is to check out my article (final title provided by my husband - I was all pooped out by the time it was due) on In The Powder Room to see which words ended up making the cut. If these gems were left behind as scraps, you know the main course has to be good.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


fishducky said...

I just read this & your In the Powder Room post--BOTH VERY FUNNY!!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

THANK YOU! They were both well outside my comfort zone, but I thought it'd be a good idea to get back in touch with my inner 6-year-old. Maybe getting in touch with the immaturity inside you should've been my writing tip. ;)

Crazy As Normal said...

I will have you know I currently only have 356 tabs open and only 45 of those are dictionary or thesaurus related, so there. ;)

Leigh Ann said...

Love scraps. I have a doc called "orphans," of phrases that I wanted to put in other essays, but they didn't fit and I didn't have the heart to delete them because it was good stuff. Surely I can make them work elsewhere! Like a whole post of just orphans that makes absolutely no sense at all!

Amy at Funny is Family said...

I could not be happier that I actually picked up some valuable information about the Process in this tootirific example. Thanks for the crap scrap suggestions!

Julia said...

You are obviously the best writer ever. I am signing up for your online course RIGHT. NOW. I have SO many scraps!!

SocialButterflyMom said...

Good title, hubby! I'm sure he was proud to see his idea in Internet print.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Writing level: pro.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I've thought about doing that, too - we're like writing kindred spirits!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I can only hope you also picked up some valuable toot synonyms!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Welcome to class! The most important thing you'll learn is that there are no refunds.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Yeah, and he says I never let him write anything on my blog - humph!

Kate Hall said...

Cutting the Designer Cheese cracked me up! It's interesting to see your process. I should write mine out, it's very different. I tend to do my first draft on paper then type it and then do about 46 read-throughs and edits. It's ridiculous. Those read-throughs are chopped up with distractions like Twitter and FB and my kids saying they're hungry when really they're just bored.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

That one was my husband's too - I suck at titles, I should put him in charge of them! And I certainly didn't mean to imply this process is distraction-free! It takes me an embarrassingly long time to write anything because I do it in short bursts (the real reason I add stuff to the bottom of the page - I might go days between writing sentences), then edit, reedit, edit again, then cut 200 words because it's way too long, then edit again. :)

Christian at PCPPP said...

My writing process involves a dart board with a bunch of random words taped to it.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

That sounds like as good a system as any! Question: is Pat wearing the dart board at any point during this writing process?

Gina Jacobs Thomas said...

Love the advice! I'm always fascinated by other people's process. And I, too, am plagued with Sucky Title Creatortitis.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I'm terrible! As long as it takes me to write an article (which is a long time, believe me) it can take twice as long to come up with a title - and then I still usually just end up settling for whatever I thought of first. ;)

Darcy Perdu said...

loved getting a peek behind the curtain -- AND inside the booty cootie catchers!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

They'd be terrifying if they weren't so dang funny!

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