Sharing My Writing Process

How do writers do it? That question has always intrigued me. When writers share their process I am all ears, happy to glean some insights that might help me in my writing journey. So when my friend Connie McLeod invited me to join a blog tour in which writers talk about exactly that, I was instantly enthusiastic, albeit a bit intimidated.

I am very much a work in progress. But then, I guess we all are.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I started my blog to flex my underused writing muscles. I always wrote in some capacity in my marketing and communications career, but not so much creatively. Figuring the self-imposed weekly deadlines would be good practice for a novelist wannabe, I jumped in, and I’m glad I did. The payoff has been well worth it. Blogging has strengthened my writing, sparked my creativity and connected me to a fabulous community of writers.

My Writing Process -- it all happens here at this desk

But way before the blog — hell, way before computers —  I always loved to write. Writing comes more easily to me than conversation. It is a solitary experience that I crave. I need my alone time and I need to write. Without either, I get cranky.

What am I Working On?

Several things. I write a blog post generally twice a week at Books is Wonderful on a topic pertaining to midlife or parenting or something else.

I contribute essays to online magazines. I write book reviews, and sometimes do sponsored posts for products I believe in.

So as I said, the plan was that the blog would bring me back to the unfinished novel that I shelved years ago. Recently I dusted it off and took another look. The writing wasn’t bad, but in the elapsed time my voice has changed. This novel doesn’t sound like me anymore. What to do? Should I rewrite it, or start something new? I’m wrestling with that now.

How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?

I dabble in several genres: memoir, humor and fiction. What distinguishes my work from others is that it’s told from my point of view, in my voice.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

I’m not very methodical when it comes to process. I don’t do outlines or plan ahead. For my blog posts, I brainstorm ideas throughout the week and pick the two that seem best.

I try to write every morning. That is, after a cup of coffee, a quick scan of my social media updates and a few rounds of Words With Friends. Oh, and also after a brisk walk with my dog. That wakes me up and gets the blood pumping, so that when we get back I’m ready to get started.

Often the most challenging part is coming up with a good, juicy topic, but that usually happens on my walk or in the shower. I think about it for a bit, imagining where it might go, and get the basic ideas down. If I’m stymied, I get up, walk around, throw some laundry in the wash, get a cup of tea. That trick usually works. I come back and the words seem to flow.

That’s not to say I can whip something up and boom, I’m done. The writing part is one thing. The editing is what takes time and patience. I need to allow time to read, revise, walk away, come back, read, revise, and so on.

Invariably I will detect a mistake here, replace a word with a better one there. I ask myself, what are you trying to say? Are you making your point? Do you need a transition between these two paragraphs? I often revise dozens of times before I’m satisfied.

At some point in the process I fall in love with my piece. If I don’t feel that, I know it’s not ready.

And now I pass the torch to one of my favorite bloggers (and people).  Mindy Trotta is a writer, editor, and social media manager for She blogs about family, parenting, and her relocated life at Relocation: the Blog.

Here are links to other writers in this blog tour. Read what they had to say about their process.

Connie McLeod

Marci Rich

Jane Gassner

Janie Emaus

Walker Thornton

Lisa Froman

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78 Thoughts on “Sharing My Writing Process

  1. I loved reading this, Helene. It may feel scattered to you, but it sounds like you have a very definite method of doing things (something I long for) – and it works – I always enjoy your authentic voice!

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:17 am said:

      Thank you, Sheryl. Funny, I think the same about your work. It always seems so well organized and thoughtful. We have a mutual admiration society!

  2. It’s great to know a little more about you. I am all over the place with my writing LOL, but it all works itself out I suppose.

  3. I’m waiting anxiously for that book which I know is inside of you!

  4. This is a marvelous peek into your process. And this felt as if you were describing ME: “Writing comes more easily to me than conversation. It is a solitary experience that I crave. I need my alone time and I need to write. Without either, I get cranky.”
    Yep, that’s me, too.
    Loved this! Thank you for sharing.

  5. I need to start walking in the morning before I sit down to write.
    My process has been neglected lately.
    I hope you can find the inspiration to get your book started, or finished.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your process! After I write, I definitely need to walk away for a bit. And then I find the words that don’t fit, the transitions that need to find their way into the piece, etc. Hey, on the subject of your novel, and how it doens’t fit anymore….I am sure you will figure out the best solution (revise, start over, etc). But I wanted to share an interesting theory I heard from Elizabeth Gilbert when she spoke at a conference I attended a few months ago. It is her belief that , at least in her own personal experince, that ideas come to us, they search us out in the cosmos like they’re looking for their “mother .” And we are given a certain time to work on the idea and to bring it to life. If we wait too long, the idea moves on into the collective unconscious in search of it another mother who can bring it to life. I know it sounds weird, but it was so magical and if you could have heard her share the synchronicities to support her conclusion, you’d be blown away. LOL. My point…if it doesn’t feel right to you anymore, and you’re not inspired, then don’t be afraid to move one and free yourself up for the next idea that’s looking for its mother. If it still resonates with you, then bring it to life. Best of luck…we’ll all be waiting!

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:21 am said:

      Wow, Lisa, that is so powerful and makes so much sense to me. Thank you for sharing that. I so admire Elizabeth Gilbert. It may in fact be the right thing for me to move on to something else.

  7. Sounds like you have a good writing process worked out. I enjoy writing on the spur of the moment. I do take my time though and that works for me.

  8. I enjoyed reading about your writing process as well. I feel the same way about blogging. It’s been a great tool to express myself and has allowed me to become part of a community of wonderful people. It’s funny before blogging, I wanted to write, but never sat down to do it. Now I do it almost every day of the week!

  9. So, another piece of the Helene puzzle in getting to know you and, boy, did I enjoy reading this! I loved reading about your process, about you and your writing and seeing the photo of your writing space. It was marvelous.

    About your book, I loved what Lisa Froman said. I think whatever you end up writing, Helene, will be from your heart. And I know that your heart is magical and, so, I want to pre-order a copy because I’m sure it will be wonderful. After all (yes, I have to say it ) BOOKS IS WONDERFUL!

    Loved this, my dear friend.

  10. This was very interesting to read, your reading process is very professional!

  11. Helen, I really relate to your need to be in love with your piece, I feel the same and struggled with that during NaBloPoMo. Very much enjoyed reading about your process and look forward to the book you will write from your beautiful desk.

  12. It is always fun to read why people do what they do . So many wonder around without any direction and often get lost, Having a direction is good 🙂

  13. Helene, really enjoyed reading this post about your approach to writing. Will have to check out the other bloggers’ tips too. Your writing space looks awesome with a bright view for brainstorming. Good luck with your novel. Can’t wait to read it!

  14. I loved reading about your writing process. I think it’s interesting how everyone has their own very specific writing process!

  15. Oh, I love this and getting inside your brain a little. I totally relate to so much of your process, and am glad you eventually fall in love with your pieces because so do your readers.

  16. You’re a great conversationalist and writer too! Your process reads like mine. (I switch from coffee to tea, too.) Instead of doing laundry, I clean out a drawer. So funny the things we do to get the creative process moving.

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:22 am said:

      Funny! Hey, I’ll do your laundry if you clean out my drawers. Deal?

  17. I am the same way with my writing. If I don’t feel it, I don’t stop until I get it right.

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am said:

      Exactly! You wouldn’t send your kid to school with mismatched clothes, right? Same thing.

  18. I love writing, its the editing and nitpicking that drives me nuts lol Takes me hours to write a 300 word post! But I love blogging! So that is why I do it! Because I love it!

  19. I loved peering into the process of another writer. What a great idea! We have so much to appreciate and learn from one another. Thanks for sharing.

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:24 am said:

      Thanks, Alice! It’s been fun reading the variety of posts on this topic.

  20. I can relate to this post because I have my ways of finding inspiration and motivating myself to write.

  21. Love this, I always like getting tips for writing. I have always loved to write and always try to improve on my skills and like you learning from others is a great way to do that.

  22. All my best ideas come to me in the shower! Or as I’m laying in bed. I also don’t really write with an outline. I just start where ever I feel like starting, then fill in the details. Like if I can’t think of an intro, I write the middle or the end, then go back to the beginning. I love hearing about other writers’ processes.

  23. Starting is the hardest part for me. Once I have the start in mind, the rest of it flows easily but without the beginning, I may as well forget it.

  24. Falling in love with your own writing makes sense to me. If you don’t have some type of connection to what you wrote and feel the “love,” then most likely it is not ready.

    I enjoyed this post and am going to take some time to come back and read what the other participants have to say too.

  25. That is a really pretty view from your desk. I think that would inspire me. 🙂

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:27 am said:

      I’m lucky to have it. But too often I find myself staring out the window and daydreaming. 🙂

  26. hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am said:

    Thank you, LL!

  27. It’s great to give your readers an insight into your creative world. People like to connect with the people they admire and follow.

    • hbludman on April 30, 2014 at 10:38 am said:

      It’s been a fun blog hop, Veronica. I love hearing other writers talk about this topic. Thanks!

  28. Ohh that nice space overlooking the pool would be a wonderful place to sit down and write.

    This was such a great post, I love hearing how others go about their writing.

  29. I often wonder what it is like to be an author. Thank you for this small trip into your world!

  30. I always loved to write too. So that is how I really ended up loving blogging, it gave me an outlet.

  31. I loved getting a little peek into your writing process. My biggest problem is that I tend to edit myself sometimes because I don’t want to offend. I think I just need to be true to me. I’m working on it.

  32. Wow, you have really thought this through – in terms of writing, I just write whatever pops to my mind lol!

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  34. hbludman on May 1, 2014 at 8:19 am said:

    Thanks, Mindy! It is really interesting, isn’t it?

  35. There are days when words come easy to me and then there are those that I struggle! I don’t think I could ever write a book, but I do enjoy putting words on “paper”!

    • hbludman on May 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm said:

      Definitely true for me too, Cynthia. Wouldn’t it be nice if the words always flowed when you wanted them to?

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  37. I think you should keep the unfinished piece as it is — not re-write it — and then write the rest of the story in your current voice. Honestly, Helene, how our voices, our focus, and our process changes is a great story and if anyone can pull that off, you can! Love you and this!

    • hbludman on May 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm said:

      Interesting idea, Ruth. You are wonderful. Thanks for your support. xoxo

  38. As a writer myself, I have my own way on how to keep my writing cells going too. But sometimes it’s just too hard to get the words on paper!

    • hbludman on May 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm said:

      Le-an, what do you do to get over the hump? Any tricks you can share?

  39. Helene,
    This is so clear I can almost see you in action.
    I appreciate the regularity of your practice. Every time I’ve heard about successful writers, I hear that they have a routine the way you describe.

    I remember your novel..wasn’t there a murder in the bog or something like that?
    I think it is very cool to think your voice has changed.

    Do you feel ready to novel instead of blog. The way you write now seems like it wouldn’t be such a big leap. I could see you writing a page a day..except this page would be in a chapter, and each chapter would grow to be a book. Go for it

    • hbludman on May 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm said:

      You are a gem, Cyd. Wise counsel, as always, and so much appreciated. xoxo

  40. Seriously, Helene, we must be destined to meet one day because you sound so much like me especially when it comes to writing. I, too, get very cranky without my alone time and those ideas ferment even while I am doing the most mundane things like brushing my teeth. I look forward to reading your novel.

    • hbludman on May 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm said:

      Pat, I hold out hope that we will indeed meet someday IRL! Thanks so much.

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