Thursday, August 23, 2012

Word(s)

Sorry folks.

I haven't posted in a while. 

But life has been pretty busy recently, with work, weddings, friends visiting, and oh yeah...

I GOT A DOG!

I'll post more about my new little buddy another time, but I figured that this point after a two-week absence would be a perfect time to give you a glimpse into what it takes for me to create a post for this blog, as well as to illustrate just how lazy I really am.

Let me use this very post as a starting example.

I actually started writing this post three months ago, when one of my favorite bloggers, MOV, wrote about the journals she never uses.  Being a writer, everyone gives her journals as gifts.  She says, "Every day, I look at that journal and promise to write something profound in it.  Every day, I break my promise."

I can totally relate.

I have a Microsoft Word document titled “Ideas” in which I just write an idea down.  It could be a quote that someone says, an overall idea for a novel or a screenplay, or an idea for a blog post.

I have mentioned this Word document before, in that I would be super-embarrassed if I died and someone were to read it.  If someone were to read a quote out of context, they might think me as a wannabe serial killer.  For example “My lip quivered as I imagined her blood pouring from her throat to the ground.” 

Not exactly something I want people to think was an autobiographical thought.

Anyway, the damn thing is 35 pages long, with most of the pages being one little bullet point of random thought after another.

Recently, however, I have been doing something slightly different when I get an idea.

Instead of opening my "Ideas" document, I open a blank Microsoft Word document.

I write down something that I found particularly compelling or funny.  Then I write down a few other related things that are also compelling or funny.  Sometimes, instead of writing down a simple bullet point of a fleeting thought, I write a paragraph or two of actual text, which sometimes leads me to think of another bullet point or two.

Then I save the Word document, giving it an appropriate title.

In other words, I am creating outlines for blog posts.  And whether I wrote an entire outline or just a sentence, the post is pretty much written in my head by the time I save the document (99% of the time, the title of the piece ends up being what I originally saved it as).

This tells me two very important things.

One: That my ideas are becoming more concrete.  Instead of having random thoughts or quotes that I jot down, not knowing exactly what they will be used for, my ideas immediately trigger the impulse to create a new Word document that will house a blog post.  This means that I am instinctively recognizing that, from their inception, my ideas are concrete enough to form a cohesive standalone piece*.

*In re-reading that last paragraph, I realize that I sound like a douche, but my intention was not to brag.  I am merely proud of the fact that I am able to have my random thoughts come out in a less chaotic fashion and immediately have a home somewhere other than a bullet-point on a 35-page Word document.

Two: That I am lazy as hell.

At this point, I have 50 or so Word Documents saved.

Here, take a look at just a portion of it:

So. Many. Unfinished. Pieces. Of. Crap.
 
It is actually getting to the point in which it is somewhat overwhelming.  The posts are pretty much written in my head, or written in pieces throughout the Word document.  All I have to do is open the document and start putting it together into a piece that my readers may or may not enjoy.

It just comes down to time. 

After it is written, I have to edit it, which takes time.  Then I have to insert it into Blogger and mess with the margins and do other stupid stuff, which takes way more time than it should.  Then I have to find an image or two that is free to use and write a funny caption for it (because who wants to just look at a wall of text, amiright?).  Then I write such a great caption for it that I decide to do some Photoshop magic and add the caption into the image so that it will be a funny standalone image that people can share on Pinterest, even though I have spent no more than two minutes of my life on Pinterest.  Then I have to schedule the post to be published in the morning, since I work crazy hours and usually don’t wake up until one or two in the afternoon.  And then I have to share it on Facebook and Twitter and beg people to read this blog post that I now feel as if I have slaved over, which takes even more time. 

And by this point, I have spent so much time with this piece of writing that I feel that it is neither funny nor compelling, and is in all actuality, simply a collection of random, shitty words.

So yea, I look at my collection of Microsoft Word documents and I think about the aforementioned process of bringing one of those pieces to completion (which, for all intents and purposes, is actually a process that most people call “writing”) and I just kind of sigh and start a new document.

For instance, look at me right now.

Instead of completing one of the many pieces that I have started, I am writing about not writing them.

It is actually kinda groovy that the amount of documents is growing faster than I can publish them, because that means that I am not running out of ideas, as I once feared I might. 

But as the folder of unfinished pieces continues to grow, a piece of me just wants them to be gone.  Regardless of whether or not I am able to post two to three quality pieces per week on the actual blog, that folder is always in the back of my mind, gnawing at my psyche with its sheer magnitude.

Instead of seeing it as an endless pool of inspiration, I see it as a giant folder of unfinished work, like fifty sinks full of dishes that need to be cleaned.  The work is not particularly difficult and I know exactly what I need to do to get it done. 

But I have cleaned dishes before and know how long it can take, especially if I really want to polish them to a shine.

The main difference between cleaning dishes and writing is that cleaning dishes is the absolute worst thing to do in the world. 

And while it might take time to turn a few thoughts into a complete piece, it is rewarding to have created something that is just that – a complete piece.  It is something that is over and done with.  I never have to worry about working with it again and maybe, just maybe, other people will enjoy it as well.

But you know what?

All I care about, really, is that it is at least clean enough to eat off of.

-Youngman Brown

25 comments:

  1. I actually need to do this more, keep notes of what I want to blog about. Most of my posts are written completely off the cuff and very rarely planned. Which does work well enough I suppose.
    I do have a great app on my iPad that is a great place from random babbling.

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  2. This was great! I love hearing about the process for writers, especially those whose writing that I absolutely love. Of course, this brought up about a hundred questions for me, but don't worry, I won't ask them :)

    My only process is to jot down ideas in my Ipod notes section. From there it's a nightmare of epic proportions!

    And you didn't sound like a douche...you sounded like a writer with a refined process and that's inspiring.

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  3. GAWD, could there be a dishwasher in your future so you could stress a bit more about your writing?

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  4. You know what, call it what you want, but that IS a process. A lengthy one. Maybe just committ to finishing one piece a week. This way you're attacking the list but not completely overwhelming yourself? Or, you know, just keep writing like this and ranting because I enjoy this as well.

    And, congrats on your dog!!

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  5. First: I missed you so much that I actually had to check my blog roll to make sure Blogger hadn't deleted you from it or something. That has happened before.

    Secondly: I need to start doing outlines. I'll have a whole narrative in my head walking to work and by the time I get settled in and get some work done, I have lost all the great sentences that were floating around in there. My blog is okay, but it might actually be good if I created a structure. I am going to give it a shot. I'll probably have 50 empty word documents, like MOV's journals.

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    1. I did the same thing last night LOL - I checked to see if Blogger wasn't updating or something!

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  6. Wow, I am actually pretty envious. This is what I've always wanted to do. As in, Brandon and I will get some spare time and we'll say, okay, let's get some posts done in advance. Let's outline them and save them in Word for later and have them ready to go long in advance.

    ...That never happens. We always fly by the seat of our asses and work on our post the day before. Maybe one day we'll have structure in our lives.

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  7. I do the same thing, but have mine sorted. 555 have made it to blog posts, and about 30 are in development or collecting e-dust.

    However, if I ever become a stand up comic, I have about 4 hours of material already... I'm off to a good start.

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  8. I do something similar... only I like to keep it online in case I come up with something at work, but know I won't work on it until I get home... so I leave everything in the Blogger editor.

    Which is fine, until I realize I need to purge it every few months... 115 published, 310 total posts? Yeah... Sometimes I just go through and write down three or four of the ideas, and delete every unpublished post and start over again. It is quite wonderful... much like renring a dumpster and cleaning out the garage.

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  9. I have nothing. However, these are some great ideas because when I am too lazy to write, which is every single day, then it would be great if I had something already written.

    I love puppies! Can't wait to see posts about yours.

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  10. I also have a Word document with bullet lists but never thought to brainstorm them as they pop up - what a great idea, consider it stolen. I can't wait to see what you have to say about Red Thread and Semicolons...those to stuck out for me for some reason.

    Also, I'm looking forward to the pictures of your puppy too!

    PS - now you've made me wonder if I need to Photoshop my images...crap!

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  11. I can't wait to read about the time you auditioned for a reality show.

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  12. Evernote app on the phone. You can even audio record ideas rather than take the time to write them. Also takes pictures. So everything is right there in one neat and tidy and convenient place. Great app! I highly recommend it!

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  13. "Instead of completing one of the many pieces that I have started, I am writing about not writing them." Love this line because I was actually thinking that as I was reading your damn funny post. I do the same with ideas in Word. Some of your Doc titles sound like they'd make fab posts. Missed reading your funny business. Good luck with pup; they kinda suck the life out of you a bit!

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  14. i actually really like this Word idea. My problem is that I seem to have these brilliant ideas at times where I am physically unable to write them down. In the shower, while falling asleep at night, driving to or from work. I just can't get it into written form. Then, by the time I am able to, I just don't have time or I've forgotten the brilliant phrasing that I had created in my head. Sigh.

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  15. Please write about Jeopardy. Please, please write about Jeopardy...

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  16. I wanna see the dog. Nice post, but write about the dog. Post pictures of the dog. Make sure you treat the dog as a member of the family because being part of your pack is the dog's great desire. I bet I will love your dog.

    Love,
    Janie

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  17. I wish I had that many ideas written down! I wing it too much and some days I'm ripping my hair out wondering if I can possibly blog (even if it's been a few days)! I want to see your take on What Women (Really Don't) Want...

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  18. Dishes are the worse. Great analogy


    Can I borrow your folder? :p

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  19. Wow, that's awesome. I am completely out of ideas for my blog. I have an 'ideas' folder with documents listed from A-Z, but basically, the documents are only filled with random words that may help me concoct some random idea to write about. Either that, or I just think of random ideas, write them in my phone, then realise how ridiculous the ideas are.

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  20. I'm struggling with the blog ideas lately...nice idea with the word docs - might have to give that a try myself

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  21. I have a large list of post ideas, but they are just a sentence to remind me of the thought I had. I should probably do as you do. Maybe some of them would eventually get written.

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  22. Can so relate to how spending so much time with our posts can make us find them totally unappealing. I sort of do the same thing sometimes, but using drafts on Blogger, makes it easier..

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  23. I can empathize. I "write" my posts while walking the dog and then jot them down when I get home. And then I realize that my story requires 25ish hours of prep work, and I decide not to bother. Honestly, my completely uninformed opinion is that many creative types are lazy. That's why we have good ideas but rarely get anything done.

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  24. I'm even lazier than you! I keep SAYING I need to write my ideas down, do something like you're doing with your Word documents. I'll randomly have an idea for a post, but won't write it down. And then when I write to actually write a post, I'll have forgotten the parts I thought would make it kick ass.

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