All of my physical writing (drafting, redrafting, editing) is done on a computer. It has to be quiet. I have to be alone. For those reasons, I don’t have a consistent place where I write. When I’m alone at home, then it’s at home. If my family is scurrying about (as they often do) I have to find somewhere else to work. Sometimes that place is a campus computer lab, or the various secret places I find on campus to work wirelessly. Sometimes I take my laptop to our basement. It just depends on the day, the time, the circumstances.
Since my location changes, so does my writing time of day. I have to work when I can fit it in. My schedule is so crazy that I don’t designate a consistent block of time to do my writing. Sometimes this is a problem, because I’m not always inspired or prepared to write when I get the time. I find I have to be in the correct mindset to write, and have to have thought about it extensively before I even begin.
When I’m drafting an academic paper, I always begin with a series of short topic sentences that later turn into the body paragraphs. I highlight them in bold, then treat them almost as separate papers, developing and revising accordingly. I work on the mini-papers in no particular order, sometimes jumping from topic to topic in order to feel as though I’ve accomplished something, even if it’s just a sentence or two here and there. I almost ways write in full sentences, as opposed to simply jotting notes. The sentences have to be carefully constructed, and this often leads to me sitting and staring at the screen until I’ve constructed the sentence in my head before I even begin typing. Once every paragraph has fully developed, I take out any bold formatting (or any notes I may of stuck in) and rearrange the paragraphs until it makes some sort of linear sense. Then I create transitions, write the intro and conclusion if I haven’t already, and almost endlessly edit.
My editing process is tedious. When a paper is “finished,” I read it over on the computer screen, correcting as I go. Then, I print a copy and edit it again in pen, afterwards correcting it on the screen again. At this point, I give the paper a day or two to set, then repeat the process sometimes reading it out loud.
While it might seem as though I’m motivated and have a set process, everything above is subject to change. Writing is usually such a painful process. I’m a heartless self-critic, and often backspace more than I accomplish. But aren’t we all like that to some extent?