I was honored and intrigued when I was invited by Katie Sluiter of Sluiter Nation to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour. I’ve recently started to get to know and become a huge fan of Katie and, as a former teacher, I particularly love her thoughtful and helpful pieces on education topics. (One of my favorites so far is “The Truth About Common Core: Why Your Anger is Misdirected.”)
And you can read Katie’s contribution to the blog tour here.
As a teacher, I talked a lot about my own writing process when trying to model good writing habits for my students. Since I stopped teaching several years ago, no one — besides my dissertation adviser — has asked me about my writing habits in a while!
1. What Am I Working On?
Right now — along with my co-editor Stephanie Sprenger — I’m in the outlining and planning stages of our next book, My Other Ex, which will be about friendship breakups. Unlike our previous anthology, The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship, this time we’re including our own original research, survey findings, interview follow-ups, and interviews with experts. We’re in the midst of figuring out how the book will be organized to include both contributors’ essays and our own analysis.
My own blogging and writing have certainly taken a back seat to my work for The HerStories Project. But the creation of our blog, the book, and our HerStories community has been such rewarding and exciting experience!
2. How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
Since I started blogging about a year ago, it’s been my goal for my writing to stretch across genres or even communities of blogging on the internet. It’s part of the reason that I left academia and teaching to try out freelance writing on my own. Academic writing felt very constricting to me and I wanted my writing to have a wider reach and to include many different forms (memoir writing, personal essays, book reviews, journalistic pieces).
It has been difficult for me to find my exact niche — exactly where I “belong” — as a writer. I started off primarily writing about education, something that of course (as a graduate student, research fellow, etc.) I’d been doing for years. But then parts of my own life (mainly as a new parent of a baby boy) started to emerge into my writing, and I liked that! I also started to explore writing about evidence-based parenting, as well as books.
So now I’d like to think that I am a small part of several different writing communities: education, parenting, evidence-based research, book blogging, and friendship blogs.
3. Why Do I Write What I Do?
I’m mainly interested in people’s stories, whether that’s through feature articles, memoir writing, or research. As a high school student and then in college, I loved writing for and editing for newspapers. I particularly loved feature writing and writing profiles of extraordinary (and ordinary) people. I did that for a while after college, and then I worked as a sort of “ghostwriter” for an academic and bestselling author. And then for years I taught writing to students and developed writing curriculum.
There is also part of me that loves and is fascinated by the process of writing — how ideas are formed, how they’re fleshed out and organized, how we use research to back up our claims — and there’s another part of me that loves the art and craft of writing (imagery, beautiful words and sentences, etc.).
4. How Does My Writing Process Work?
Well, it depends on what it is that I’m writing. If it’s a longer piece (such as my dissertation), I don’t write anything for a long time. For that research project, I spent months and months reading and researching before I attempted to figure out what I would be saying. I like to spend a lot of time for the ideas to percolate. I find that a lot of my best thoughts — what often ends up on paper — come when I’m lying in bed or sitting in a chair with my son, just ordinary, quiet moments.
In academia, you generally write a “literature review” — a detailed summary of what has been said on the topic — before you start your own research or explore your own ideas. That has even stretched into my blogging. If I’m going to write about something that has been written a lot before — sleep training, toddler development, work/life balance — I try to read as much as I can from other writers that I respect, taking notes and jotting down my own thoughts as I go along.
It’s also been fun for me to try out more improvisational writing sometimes. Some of my favorite posts (“Imagined Toddler Apology Notes“; “5 Reasons You Should Be Watching More and Better TV“) have been written when I just had a random idea and sat down to write.
As far as when I write, it’s always the morning. My son goes to preschool most days for a few hours in the morning. This is the only time I write. I’ve always been a morning writer. It’s when my brain is most clear and when the ideas come most easily.
Next week the tour will continue with two more bloggers that I love.
I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know more about the writing processes of Jamie Krug of Our Stroke of Luck and Alison Lee of Writing, Wishing. I first starting reading Jamie on the Huffington Post and was so moved by her writing. I also realized that we had a few blogging friends in common. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jamie a little better through The HerStories Project book and can’t wait to read more of Jamie’s writing — online and in print!
Alison is a social media and internet dynamo and guru. I first learned about her when I started asking other bloggers for a good resource of information for basic social media tips. She’s provided me with invaluable, practical advice about how to improve my blogging and social media habits. (I wrote about how she was one of my first blogging mentors.) And I’m looking forward to learning about she juggles motherhood, her social media and blogging consultant business (Little Love Media), and her own successful blog.