Writing Process

Embrace Pivoting: The Blog Post Writing Process (from another  Blog Editor)

In my experience, no writing process is linear—in fact, it’s far more likely that the product of your written efforts will take a life of its own as words come together on the page. And though I will not deny that some people, after a sleepless night and caffeine overconsumption, can crank out a five-page research paper in three hours, my writing process requires a lot of flexibility of thought.

I am Amari Johnson, Assistant Editor of the Wheaton College Writing Center Blog (aka WCWC Blog), and author of the blog post “Songwriting: A Loose How-To.”

Ironically enough, the original plan for my blog post was to write a piece about the poetry writing process, but the plan, in some senses, went awry.

I started writing poetry in high school, and when I came to Wheaton College I was confident in my poetry—hubristically so. But, through various writing classes, essay contests, and Kodon poetry submissions, I realized that my writing was not as good as I originally thought it was. I like to say I was at a poetic standstill.

Fast forward a year and a semester, and, as part of my Writing concentration requirements, I take Poetry and Criticism with Dr. Miho Nonaka because of my love for the literary form. I challenged myself as much as I could and, near the end of January, I was convinced by Anna-Catherine McGraw (former WCWC Blog Web Manager and current Writing Center Student Manager) to write a blog post, the topic I chose was poetry.

But if I learned nothing else from my class, poetry is a large beast to tackle, with all of its forms and intricacies, and I was very ill-equipped to write anything comprehensive. One night, as I sat at my computer, staring at a blank screen, I got the idea to approach poetry at an angle: songwriting.

Songwriting was the form of poetry that I felt the most confident writing about at that moment. I took commercial music, guitar, and piano throughout my high school career and have published several songs, so I know effective songwriting like the back of my hand. That was the angle that was the most accessible for me, and one I had the most knowledge, confidence, and interest in writing about.

Thus, what was meant to be a piece about the writing of poetry morphed into a piece explaining the inner working of a contemporary, lyrical composition, namely how music and lyricism often work together to communicate things to the audience without their awareness of it. I would not have gotten to the topic I wrote about if I had not let my passions for the topic, as well as my strengths and interests in writing, guide the way I expressed my thoughts.

The reader notices when an author genuinely cares about what they’re writing about, and they begin to care about it more as a result.

As a writer, I’ve learned that writing is a matter of voice, voice that is constantly shifting and being molded by the information we take in. As a blog editor I’ve found that the most enjoyable blog posts to read are ones that stem from the author’s interests and expertise. So, no matter what or how much information is gathered, the distribution of the facts is always mediated by the internal processes and experiences of the author. The reader notices when an author genuinely cares about what they’re writing about, and they begin to care about it more as a result. Let that guide you as you write.

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