A Messy Process

How I Write

            Every piece of my writing starts off with one very important phone call. To my mother. Not to ask for help, but rather because she is always willing to listen to me. She serves as a sounding board, allowing me to ramble on and on about my possible ideas and helps me narrow down my thoughts into something resembling a coherent outline. During one such phone call, I managed to flip positions on the issue I was writing about three times before I settled on an argument, and luckily my mother was patient enough to let to me argue with myself.  Before I can write anything on paper, I first need to talk about it. A lot. Luckily, venting my thoughts out to my mom usually results in me discovering thoughts I didn’t even know I had. Saying everything out loud helps me figure out what actually makes sense and what is a random point that doesn’t connect to anything, and this preparation time also puts me in the mindset to write.

Once I have my thoughts somewhat processed, I start from the top. Well, slightly below the top. After writing “insert clever/witty/interesting title here!!” at the top of the page, I attempt to write my introduction. This is usually the worst part of the process. The first few sentences, trying to start out with something that sounds interesting, quirky, or at least coherent. I have never been the type of writer who could write the introduction last, or jump around to different sections of a piece of writing. In order for me to make real progress on anything, the introduction has to be at least decent. This is where the bulk of my procrastination occurs; I never feel more of a drive to clean my room or go work out as when I have the weight of a paper pressing down on me. Once I have something down for the first few sentences, everything flows much easier, and I can churn out a rough draft to promptly rip apart. Said draft is usually a colorful mess. Colorful, because I’m a big fan of the magical aspect of Microsoft Word that lets me change font colors. Purple marks a sentence that is worded weirdly, blue means it seems like it is out of place or could fit better somewhere else, red says oh my goodness please edit that terrible horrible thing before you turn this in. Marking up the paper as I write helps keep everything clear, in a weird way. I never want to delete things right away, but if I turn them red I can often go back and find some merit in what I wrote. I can recognize what makes sense, and am painfully aware of the structure or lack thereof.

All in all, my writing process is messy, both in my need to say things out loud to see if they sound right and in being a little trigger happy when it comes to changing the text color. It takes time to sift through the junk to find the things that I like about my writing, but if I don’t make it messy first, there is no way for me to clean it up.


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