Sunday, November 23, 2008

Writing and Researching

Getting Ideas
Does something piss you off? Lots of things piss me off, and I blog about them, for now. Someday a blog post may turn into an article. Do you have good ideas for making life easier? Lots of publications pay for tips. Could you write a how-to article about something you are good at?

My best advice for finding ideas is to read everything you can get your hands on and look around you for problems you would like to be solved; look for questions you’d like answers to. With a lot of Internet and library research, you can turn a good idea into a feature article. With no research whatsoever, you have a personal essay. There are tons of markets for both.

I also buy magazines when I’m out and send for sample copies. Since I’m kinda “crunchy” (cloth diapers, breastfeeding my kids til they’re teenagers), I bought Mother Earth News and Back Home so I could study them. If you love to travel, grab all the travel mags you can find.

My Writing Process
As for the actual writing process, I do it when I can. Sometimes I get an idea and rush to the computer and take about 30 seconds to get it out of my head. Sometimes I make Thursdays my Writing Day and take about an hour in the evening while Aron plays with all the kids. I’m not at a point in my life where I can carve out a few hours a day just to write. I don’t want to. I’m raising and educating kids, and that’s my main job.

During the day, for me, it all depends on what the baby’s doing. I choose to have her take her naps on me, so there is no guaranteed 2-hour writing slot for me every day while my kids chill and/or nap. I don’t gripe about it because I’d rather be holding my baby and reading and getting ideas that way (and jotting ideas down on tiny pieces of paper that my daughter may or may not eat later). If I didn’t hold my baby for naps, there would be no book reviews on my blog!

Otherwise, I can sometimes get the kids started on homeschooling, get the little girls occupied and then grab 20 minutes here and there. I don’t generally give up sleep to write. I sleep very well at night, thank you, and need as much as possible (plus coffee) to function all day.

My writing process also includes lots of chocolate because I’m stressed out trying to balance everything: homeschooling, mothering, wifing, friending, cooking, cleaning, errands, organizing, writing, blogging. Things that suffer most are my appearance (can’t remember the last time I was on the treadmill … plus all that chocolate), friends and the house.

I haven’t had to do much research yet. I tend to get sucked into the Internet and get side-tracked. Recently I took something I had submitted (and was rejected) about volunteering for Meals on Wheels with my kids and am trying to turn it into something more broad, like Volunteering With Kids. So I went to the Internet and found out there’s a National Volunteer Week in April, which gives me plenty of time to put a piece together to submit to parenting magazines all over the country.

Then I Googled “Volunteering with Kids” and got a ton of information. Small local parenting mags love sidebars, so I was looking for Web sites to put in a sidebar.

Interviewing scares the hell out of me, but I know quotes from locals and/or experts really help to sell a piece. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

What’s YOUR writing process like? When do you find time to write? Do you love or hate research?

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