Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Case of Narcissism

I've done a a number of interviews for the blog this semester (some are forthcoming, so be excited!) about writers and their writing processes.

These interviews have proven most enlightening to me. They have shown me that everyone has a different writing process and that there does not seem to be a right or wrong in regard to how a writer works. Some writers make outlines, others use a plethora of sticky notes, and a number of writers start by freewriting.

Naturally, this has caused me to look inwardly and study my own writing process, which is of course different than the people I interviewed -- simply because of who I am.

So, I decided to ask myself some of the same questions that I have used to interview others this semester.



However, it felt to me that I had opened Pandora's Box. I wasn't too happy with some of my answers, and other questions that I responded to provided me with moments where I felt that I should pat myself on the back.

What this self-quiz ultimately did for me though is to take note that my own writing process is still in process. I see things that I need to change about the way I write, and I don't know if I would have taken note of these characteristics had I not interviewed myself.

So, without further are the questions I posed to myself.

1. Writing Process. What do those two words mean to you?

Process always makes me think of science, so I naturally cringe and recoil in horror. Combining the word writing with process does lessen the gross sciencey feel...but still makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe that is the point though because I don't know if we should ever be really comfortable with our writing process. I think that maybe our process always needs to be changed/updated/revised in order to keep ourselves on our toes. Of course, that could be a silly thought because I'm sure there are people out there who have iron clad methods of writing, and maybe I haven't found that yet.

2.   How do you start writing?

Well, this is silly, but I start by thinking of a title. I usually have a strong idea about what I want to write, but until I have that snappy title, I can't do anything. I will sit forever thinking of a title. I don't know why that stops me and holds me up, but it's true. Maybe it's my jumping off point.

3.  Do you use an outline?

I actually don't. I just sit down and start writing. I usually surround myself with my reference articles and books, so that they are reachable....and I will stack them in order of appearance in my paper, so I guess that could be thought of as an outline. Actually, before I start writing I do a lot of pre-writing in my head....I almost draft my paper completely in my mind. So, maybe I do have an outline of sorts.
I do admit to using an outline while writing chapters of my thesis, and I think that is because of the amount of information I had to give as well as the large number of secondary information that I provided. My mind couldn't handle all of that.

4.  Do you consider yourself a one drafter?

I used to. Actually, most of my work is only revised once...maybe twice (if I've totally missed the boat). This could be because I do all of that mental pre-writing before I actually start. I have become more of a multi-drafter while writing my thesis, but I think that could be the nature of the beast.

5.  What type of writing is your favorite?

I enjoy writing creative non-fiction. I've always wanted to write fiction, but I get bored with my characters and end up killing them off. I prefer to write humor and will often write about the crazy stuff my kids do. My creative writing is my outlet. It's very different than the scholarly writing I have to do. I have a blog that I try to post in at least twice a month, and this blog affords me the opportunity to use plain language (as opposed to scholarly) and write in a style that is less formal and more fun. Doing this helps me separate my academic writing from my fun personal writing.

6.  What projects are you currently working on?

Right now I'm revising my thesis, which is about Identity Performance in Young Adult Literature. I haven't really discussed writing in my thesis, but I do think that performance and writing go hand in hand. Maybe that's what I will work on next. After all, writing is a performance as well. We generally do not write in the way that we speak (well...I do) and we often write in methods that do not fit into our own discourse communities. Therefore, the writer we are becomes a performance. We write in different ways for different disciplines, audiences, etc. I guess maybe we are playing a different character each time we sit down to write, which could be why I enjoy writing creative non-fiction. It's my chance to play myself. Hmmmmm....Maybe this should become the topic of my next blog. Or dissertation?

7.  If you could give anyone advice about writing, what would it be?

Know your audience. If you know you're audience you can write for them. Don't write above them and don't write below them. Write to them.

Maybe I should interview myself more often because this process was cathartic.

And maybe you should interview yourself too...

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