Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

The Writing Process Blog Tour

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-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr
-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr


“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same ole plot”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

Earlier this summer one of my favorite bloggers nominated me to participate on The Writing Process Blog Tour. My first thought was process? You mean there should be a process? My second thought was me? You want to know how and why and what I write? I find how others write fascinating so I was excited to be included.

Gene’O is the brilliant mind behind Just Gene’O and Sourcerer Blog and  contributor at Part Time Monster. If you check out his blog and cruise around a little you’ll see why I’m a fan. Probably one of  the most versatile bloggers, he writes about music and comics and does photoblogging as well. And when he finds a cause or injustice he needs to write about, watch out. Needless to say I was flattered that he asked me to participate.

Now on to the questions about my writing (gulp) process….

Why do I write what I do?

Quite simply, I write about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it’s lighthearted commentary or observations. Sometimes I write album reviews or profile songs I have “playing on repeat.” Literally. I get obsessed with new music. In college my roommates had to hide my new Phish cd from me. I occasionally write about my kids and parenting. Other times it’s about issues I’m passionate about. If someone says something really stupid and misogynistic I’ll probably write about it. Racism, feminism, poverty, injustice to marginalized people, these tend to be the things I feel the need to speak out about. I also enjoy the opportunity to exorcise some anger when writing about things that get me fired up. The thing I love about blogging is I make the rules and I can write about what I want when I want. Isn’t that we all love about it?

How does my writing process work?


The name of my blog is from “Across the Universe” (The Beatles). That song sums up everything I feel about writing, about life, about this blog.

I start every blog post with a lyric from a song. I do this for a few reasons. Music is my favorite medium. It has always been what inspires me. I don’t have any musical talent, but it’s been a part of my life since I can remember. At times a song lyric or song title inspires an idea for a blog post. Other times I finish a post and have to search for a lyric that seems representative or connected in some way to what I wrote. And I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the mood of a song dictates what type of writing I do. I try to just go with it and let it guide me.

Which brings me to the second part of my process. I try to write by instinct or inspiration. If I start writing and I don’t feel something I stop. My dashboard is full of unfinished posts. Some of them I’ve revisited after months of languishing and finished them with a new thought or direction. The seed may have been planted but not ready to produce until much later. Others may never see the light of day. I try not to sweat it.

I prefer to write on my laptop but have notebooks full of writings and scribblings and notes. I use these when I need to write on the go. Carpool line has seen some scratchings. Swim practice has become a surprisingly fruitful place for writing. The white noise of swimmers rhythmically moving in sync through the water is quite calming. If I’m desperate and am caught without my laptop or a notebook I’ll reluctantly type notes in my phone.

And the editing. Dear lord, the editing. And by editing I mean cutting. I tend to be long-winded. I have rarely written something that didn’t need at least 500 words shaved off. This has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from blogging. In every other aspect of life I live by “less is more”. Except for writing. And cheese. And wine. Anyways, editing takes me ridiculously long to accomplish. I’m hoping that as I enter my second year of blogging this part will come easier. (I mean, this whole paragraph was probably completely unnecessary but I’m leaving it in to make a point).

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

Unless you count random as a genre, I don’t know if I have one. And I’m not sure if what I do is any different from any other blogger who writes about issues and music and  any idea that pops in to their head. The difference is in simply that we all have different ways of processing the world around us. We all have different thoughts on any given subject. If I know I want to write about a particular subject I purposely avoid reading blogs or opinion pieces on that topic. I don’t want to be influenced and I don’t want to see that someone has already captured my thoughts. If I see someone expressing what I had intended to say, I’ll abandon the whole idea. I need to know that what I wrote came wholly from me and other than reading articles to gather information, I prefer to write in the dark so to speak. That being said, I am often inspired by what I read from other bloggers.

What Am I Working On At the Moment?

I would love to say I was working on a book. And I was a little, here and there, before I started this blog. It’s been years since I’ve written anything that would be read by another soul, so I have taken a break from working on the book while I hone my writing skills here. Writing for an audience and hitting publish definitely makes you critique and edit and learn. I hope to resume working on my book soon. I’m almost always thinking about it, playing out scenes and ideas in my mind. But right now, this blog is my focus. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to devote more time to it now that I don’t have a little one at home with me during the day.

So that’s it! A peek inside my lack of a process. Now I get to pass the tour on to three bloggers:

Lizzi of Considerings – Life in Silver Linings Lizzi is a generous soul who’s words will touch you. She doesn’t hold back and brings her heart along for the ride. She is one of my favorite bloggers and if you read her blog you’ll fall in love with her too.

Mandi of Cellulite Looks Better Tan Mandi writes with a voice that puts you there. You feel like you are walking along with her, living in her world. It’s an intangible thing and one of those things you wish you could learn but it’s probably innate. Funny, serious and everything in between.

Racheal of Rachealizations Lover of cheese and all things positive. Funny and contemplative and insightful. Check out her blog and see the hidden gems inside.

So get to it people! Share with us the secrets to your madness- I mean writing.

13 Responses

  1. I love how music inspires your writing, and I think the lyric at the first of every post is buh-rilliant. I too am much inspired by music. I think it’s the instruments more than the lyrics for me, but it’s amazing how a compelling piece of music can send your fingers to the keyboard to create. Your writing always makes me want more. Here I am reading this, and now I have to go stalk your posts that I may have missed. If you want to read mine, it’s here:
    But don’t feel obligated…at all.

    1. It’s more often the lyrics for me. Although sometimes its’s the mood of the song. But the lyrics are what usually gets my mind going in a certain direction. I loved your post about your process. And I just realized I never got to read about what a liar you are! Damn life distractions! Going there right now!

  2. I try to listen to music while I’m writing, but then I end up singing along instead of writing so I have to turn the music off…or I put on the Star Wars soundtrack because no words.

    1. I just assumed that when you enter a room the Star Wars soundtrack automatically starts playing. Doesn’t it? If not, I don’t wanna know…

      Sometimes if my writing is not flowing I have to turn the music down or off. But more often I play a particular artist. The last post I wrote I played Lenny Kravitz the whole time. Sometimes I use the music just to drown out my kids. Hell, I do that when I’m not writing.

    1. Awww, you’re so sweet. I will probably trash what I’ve done so far and start from scratch. I feel like blogging has helped me find my voice and my writing has changed. At least I hope it has! But what freaks me out is how long it would take me to write. It takes me a ridiculously long time to write a blog post! I will do it, though. It just might have to be published posthumously if I don’t learn to write faster!

  3. I listen to music when I’m writing. Usually. Sometimes not, but that tends to be indicative of a poor emotional state rather than anything else.

    I LOVE that you meta-thunk that big paragraph and left it in to make a point. That made me smile inside.

    And I’m hugely pleased to know that you also feel ‘nicheless’ – I know certain people bang on about having a niche, and frankly unless you’re into SEO and gathering numbers of followers and trying to make a buck doing this, who cares? A place to write down the things which fall into your head is perfect.

    That said, I hadn’t noticed that you begin each blog post with a song lyric, but I do love to read what you write, and to follow the ways your mind works. Your grasp of the political, the newsworthy and the current events is awesome, and blows my mind more than a little.

    I’m very grateful you nominated me…I’ve actually done this already – I can show you if you like. It was back in April as part of the A-Z challenge.

    And thank you for saying such nice things about my blog 🙂

    (Side-note – pleased to know someone else who’s coming up to two years of blogging. I feel like I’m surrounded a lot of the time by people who’ve only been doing it for a year, and who stun me with their brilliance. You stun me with yours, too – don’t get me wrong – but you have the 2 year thing going and that makes me feel a little more alright about it.)

    1. The music I listen to indicates my mood for sure. And I do get in funks where I don’t listen to music for days or sometimes even weeks. That’s usually indication that I’m overwhelmed or upset.

      As far as niches, I definitely didn’t want to be boxed in when it comes to blogging. And the SEO and analyzing data is so not my strong suit. Maybe if it was I’d grow this blog a lot faster! Numbers are not my thing. Of course you already know I am not so good with the technology… it’s a wonder I ever got this blog going to begin with!

      You think I blow your mind? That feels very surreal. But I’ll take it, and acknowledge mutual admiration 🙂

  4. Loved reading this! The lyric/intro thing fascinates me. I would never have thought of that. Really cool. I am also “genre-less”. I think I started out in a niche and I’ve happily strayed from it, and then come back again. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. Thank you Jill! I think there are a lot of bloggers who stray from their niche. I love that about doing this! We can write about whatever we want, we make up the rules and sometimes make up words! I’ve been kind of making it all up as I go along. And I still don’t really know what I’m doing…

  5. Sweeet! I’ve been waiting on your response. I nominated you because I wanted to know this stuff. (Perfect timing, btw — I am VERY happy I had that new blog in place by the time you wrote this).

    Excellent nominations, too. You’ve pointed me in the direction of three blogs that are new to me. After I am done with this, I’m going to see what sort of other social media they have 🙂

    I love this blog tour because it’s a way of comparing notes. I find our similarities and differences fascinating. Here’s a little list.

    1. I also struggle with wordiness. The cutting for me is not part of editing. It’s a step in the process unto itself. I’ve pretty much imposed a 1500-word limit on myself for single posts. That’s too long by half, in my view. This is why I write so many series. I start a post, it gets to 800 words with no end in sight, and I go, “Gee, I could break this up have something to blog about for a week.”

    2. I like what you say about dropping the ideas that don’t work, but coming back to them later and I am glad that works for you. I don’t have a lot of drafts myself, though. I typically finish a post within a couple of weeks or trash it.

    3. I also work off-and-on on a book. Have been doing that my whole life, and I play scenes in my head in a very similar way to what you describe.

    4. I can’t have music playing when I am writing or reading. I need silence. I play the music when I’m browsing and sharing, though. I’ve blocked off a little time on the weekends to focus on pinning and tweeting. Music is a must for that.

    5. I also love “Across the Universe,” but in all the time I’ve been reading your blog, did not catch the reference. My second favorite Beatles song is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

    Awesome response!

  6. I know, I’m so sorry you had to wait on my response! This summer was completely weird. I’m so glad things feel back to normal (whatever that is).

    The wordiness is my biggest issue. I feel like blogging is making me address that. Even my comments are too long! (Usually a long comment indicates my level of excitement!)

    You would be shocked if you saw how many drafts I have hanging out in my dashboard. I just trust that at some point I’ll find a way to use it. At some point I may have to copy and save them in another file and clean up my dashboard. I generally can’t stand clutter and it’s beginning to feel a little cluttered.

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps is absolutely one of my favorite Beatles songs. I love the melancholy tone. My other favorite is “Don’t Let Me Down,” I love the way Lennon’s voice builds up to a desperate wail. Of course, then there’s “In My Life.” That song brings me to a giant puddle of tears every time. I really can’t listen to it in front of people because I get so emotional. So apparently I have a lot of favorite Beatles songs. I could go on all day… 🙂

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