Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Way You Do The Thing You Do

I thought I might share my process for blogging. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

During the day, when I'm away from my computer, if something comes to me I'll write it down on a piece of paper and shove it into my pocket. Or I'll grab a highlighter (pen if necessary) and mark up the paper's articles or passages I want to comment on. I might make notes in the margins. The whole time, stuff is percolating in the back of my mind, setting up thoughts and structures to be used later. My brain is like that, always working and never shutting off. It's a curse and part of the reason I used to drink too much.

When I get home, all that gets tossed on the desk. I'll fire up the computer and do my daily reading, bookmarking as I go. After a few hours, which is frequently what my daily reading takes, I'll go to Blogger and get to work.

I usually start with short "look at this" posts to warm up the will, muscles and brains. Longer posts will almost always get composed in Blogger, sometimes in Notepad and then copy/pasted in. I'll write straight from the mind, organising as I go, snatching and pasting in links the same way. I'll go back and scan over things to make sure links are all filled in and not fubar'ed, so as not to trigger "safe mode," which has given me headaches before.

Once the whole thing is written, I'll do a "Select All/Copy" function. This is crucial with Blogger, as I have lost many posts to the gods of the ethersphere not following this step. Then I post. Once the new post is in the published window, I'll wave the cursor over the links, to check them. Then I start reading. If I spot something, I'll hit "edit" to recall the post.

This pass I'll double-check for spelling, punctuation and grammar. My spelling is really good, but my typing less so. I rarely type government correctly on the first shot, usually getting "governemnt" instead. I also have a tendency to over-use commas, so I check for that. Another problem in my writing is starting too many sentences with "coughs," conjunctions like "and, now, but, though" or short phrases that don't serve as more than literary self-effacements before I express something strong. I went looking for some just now to illustrate and couldn't find any! Hah, good. It's a real problem for me, but I must be getting better at rooting them out.

Then comes checking for words reused too often or too close together. I make sure I make my points clearly enough. Sometimes, I assume a bit too much on the part of the reader and find I need to add a bit to clarify. I'm also bad about getting sentences into the wrong order, having the idea and then thinking up the setup, so that I have to cut'n'paste them into a better flow of thought.

I may also miss some point I meant to make, so I have to shoe-horn in the additional stuff. Then I go back and reread the reposted whole, to make sure I like it. Usually that's the end of things, though I may also see mistakes I hadn't caught yet.

Then, I call up Half-Bakered in the browser to see how it looks. Sometimes, there will be formatting errors that require fixing. By this point, my eyes are tired, too, so seeing the posts in a new way helps to catch whatever I haven't caught up to this point.

Once in a while, I'll have second thoughts about something and will go back to edit those things I may have overstated. Because I sometimes express myself a bit strongly.

I'm always surprised how long some of these posts turn out to be. I've also noticed that my vocabulary has shrunk noticeably, most likely due to a lot of Internet and news media reading. I read fewer books, novels and short fiction than I used to, which I regret. Long, convoluted sentences filled with conjunctions and subjunctive clauses and asides are another concern. I've also noted that posts like this have a lot of sentences starting with "I."

That's my process. What's yours?

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