On Writing

desk

Where I write

“Christine’s a writer.” 

That’s how my friend introduced me and I couldn’t help but cringe a little when I heard those words. It felt like it was play pretend, like when I used to play pretend I was a doctor or a boutique store owner when I was a kid. It didn’t feel real.

Writing has always been a way for me to make sense of my emotions, thoughts and the world around me. Up until a few years ago, I’ve scribbled in a journal almost every day since Junior High. Sometimes I go back and read through them but mostly, it’s a cathartic release of whatever was in my head and my heart at the moment that needed to come out. Who knew that from that beginning that my love of writing would continue to grow.

I am honored that my friend Tricia asked me asked me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour. I’ve loved getting a sneak peak into the writing process of so many writer whom I admire. It almost feels like you’re pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz and you see how the magic happens, how those beautiful words make their way on to the page.

So here’s a bit about my writing process…

coffee and croissant

My writing often requires coffee. A chocolate croissant doesn’t hurt either.

What am I working on?

Typically, I’m working on any or all of the following four things.

1. Freelance articles
Earlier this year, I committed to pursuing freelance writing as part of my career. Usually, I’m working on 3-5 different articles at one time. Since I often feel like a perpetual student, I love digging deep for these articles and learning about the topics I’m writing about.

2. Blog posts
Forever blog posts either for this blog or guest posts for friends.

3. Consulting work
I still do some work as a freelance consultant, mostly for nonprofit clients and mostly development work. I write a lot of grant proposals and reports.

4. Pitches and essays
This is always ongoing and definitely one area that I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like. You have to continue to generate pitches (and send them out) if you hope to get work as a freelance writer (Remember “be a writer not a waiter“?) so I try to craft as many quality pitches as I can. I also love writing personal essays but again, I don’t get to spend as much time writing these. I think that it’s mostly because these require the most reflection on my part (and willingness to see that reflection). Sometimes these essays get pitched. Sometimes they end up on the blog.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I say that I share stories about life, family and fitness on my blog but I’ve never felt that I quite fit into the niche of healthy living blogger. I don’t share the details of my workouts or food. I don’t share a lot of “how to” or more service-oriented fitness posts, although I’ve started to a bit with my Ask a Yogini series.

I like to share my journey – the stories and the lessons that I’ve learned through these experiences. I’m stealing some words from my friend Ari, who kindly described my blog and writing in this way:

“She talks about fitness and family, but more importantly she shared her journey, and her inner thoughts in a way that makes you feel like you are growing right along with her. She puts that voice in your head that reminds you how powerful self reflection is.”

will rogers quote

Why do I write what I do?

I write mainly for self-reflection. It allows me to capture both special moments as well as daily life. But more important for me, it offers a chance to reflect on situations and to understand why I acted or reacted in a certain way and what I can take from that situation.

I write about fitness because right now, that’s where I learn the most about myself and about life. It’s where the lessons come through the clearest to me, while I’m standing in the ocean staring out at the waves or in the middle of yoga practice or a run.

I treasure the opportunity to share my story as a way to life up others. I share the challenges that I encounter, my successes and setbacks as well as how I choose to handle these situations in a real and honest way. It helps me feel connected to others, knowing that they have gone through something similar or struggle with similar challenges, and it gives me strength.

Content Brew notes

How does my writing process work?

I think that this is the reason why I’m so enamored with this Writing Process blog tour – because I don’t think that I have a writing process, and I often don’t feel like a writer and maybe if I read about other people’s writing process, I can glean a few insights here and there about how to become a writer. Does that make sense?

Ideas will come to me randomly and never if I’m actually trying to generate ideas. I have ideas scribbled all over the place – a small notebook, post-its and notepads around the house, random emails to myself, notes on my phone. I try to organize all those ideas in Evernote but I don’t do it often enough.

Idea and story generation are often the hardest for me. I probably spend most of my time trying to come up with good ideas, researching them and then constructing pitches. I really don’t like the pitching process but know that it’s a necessary part of the game…I mean job.

I write in my head a lot. I’ll turn an idea over and over in my mind until I find just the write angle and lede into the article or blog post and until I figure out what the point of the story is that I want to share. I do try to have a point with my writing rather than blabbing on and on. That’s what my journal is for.

I mind-write when I run or in the shower. Oddly enough, I find that I mind-write the best when I’m riding the subway. I put together sentences and structure so that when I sit down to write, about half of the work is already done. I don’t like writing quickly and then editing a lot. I like to have a good first draft, which is a lot to ask for but I do.

For blog posts, I almost always write my posts the night before I post them, usually after the boys have gone to sleep. Even if I know beforehand what I want to write about (I swear I do have an editorial calendar). I don’t know if it’s because I need a little fire under my ass to get me to write. It’s a terrible habit and doesn’t leave much room for editing.

For articles, once I get approval from my editor, I dive right in to research the topic and schedule interviews. I often need to have all the information gathered before I will start piecing the article together. I know what the article structure will be but I like having the details that each piece of research or each interview brings to determine how to weave together the story. And then I edit and edit. Put it away and then edit again.

I’d love to hear about your writing process so considered yourself invited to participate in this tour. Why do you write what you do?

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Comments

  1. says

    Very cool to see inside your process. I’d love to say that I have a process but it’s more like a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ process. Some weeks, I’m ahead of the game. I’ll have ideas planned out, notes with thoughts. But most, it’s whatever my fingers do when I sit down.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Marvelous is…My Profile

  2. says

    I love getting a glimpse into your process. I have a similar one when it comes to blog posts. I have a little list on my phone of ideas, but I usually just write about what’s current and happening NOW because of the catharsis.
    As you know, I’ll be working more on my freelancing as soon as I decide to make more time :-)
    Allie recently posted..The Countdown: W(h)ine Week!My Profile

  3. says

    Thank you for sharing your process :). My process is definitely a work in progress. I also mind write while I’m running. I’m getting better about an editorial calendar, although it went out the window this weekend.
    Susan recently posted..Saying yes and figuring it outMy Profile

    • says

      I like having the editorial calendar almost like a safety net. That way I know that there’s a topic that I can write about and I don’t have to think of one off the top of my head all the time! But things get moved around all the time when there are more timely things I want to talk about.
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  4. says

    Wow! This was a fantastic read! like a look into the inner mind of a writer that many of us bloggers look up to with her skills. I truly enjoyed this read! I use writing a lot too. Before races I often write down over and over how I want the race to go, every single detail, and you know what, it usually works just how I had hoped! In that sense it is visualization, but i also use it to get out any fears that I can then work on overcoming! Thanks for this Christine! You are so impressive!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday: Hearty Strawberry Shortcake Oatmeal PancakesMy Profile

    • says

      Aww thanks Tina! I love that you write how you envision your races beforehand. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on mental training and mindfulness for athletic performance and it’s fascinating to me!
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  5. says

    I found Tricia blog through one of your Friday Round ups– I am in love with her style and read her writing process post as well. I felt myself nodding a lot- saying, “Yes, I do a little of that too.” I have a process so similar to both of you. Currently, I am very interested in writers block– which I have been suffering from lately. I used to get upset, when I was blocked, and now I find it a little fun to discover what causes them, and how to rid yourself of them. Thank you for sharing your process, and I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Comment on 7 Ways to Ease Muscle Soreness by 9 Nutrition and Fitness Posts You Should Read – Diary of a Semi-Health NutMy Profile

    • says

      I love that you found Tricia through one of my round-ups. I love her writing and insights. Writer’s block is funny, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve been blocked lately and not super inspired. I used to get upset about it too but I realized that the more I worried about it, the harder it was for me to write. I’m trying not to fight it so much and am only writing when I have something to say. Right now, just generating topics and story ideas is what has me spinning in circles.
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  6. says

    YES, why is that I don’t feel like a writer? I have a hard time calling myself that. Maybe it’s because I think a real writer needs to be in certain publications or because I’m not yet settled in to what my voices is..I’m not sure. But nice to hear someone else has the same thoughts!!

    I do share a lot of how to’s and I’m realizing how much I love that. I love when people say they learned something that will help them improve. Conversely I also love reading the way you write which is personal insights that help others.
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..Optimize race performance with treadmill runningMy Profile

    • says

      I too think that it’s because I haven’t been published in certain publications or in print and for some reason that makes it feel legitimate. I love that you share the how to’s and I think that it’s definitely such a gift that you offer all of us. Part of me feels like I’m not qualified to do that i.e. I’m no expert and am not a certified trainer or coach, etc.
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  7. says

    Love getting a glimpse at your process! You are most definitely a writer (that’s how I’d introduce you too!) and I think the best thing about this tour is seeing that process takes many different shapes. Even those of us who feel we have no process, have one once we write it down!
    Tricia recently posted..Lovely little things, week 16My Profile

    • says

      Yes! Sitting down to write this made me realize that 1) I am working on a number of different things even though it doesn’t always feel like it, and 2) yes! I have a process even if it’s not the prettiest! Thank you for inviting me to join this tour
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  8. says

    I love this. I feel like a phony far too often.
    When people say, “How’s the blog?,” I immediately think that the person asking is indirectly, subtly judging me or making fun of my day-to-day posts.

    But, I always remind myself that I started my blog two years ago for myself. It’s still for myself. It helps me document the most important memories in my life, while allowing me to reflect on important pieces of my journey.

    Even though I put myself out there for people to see, I have to remind myself that I do it for me. I write for myself. It’s become a part of who I am!

    Thank you for sharing this post <3
    Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog. recently posted..Scenes From This Weekend: Mother’s Day in Monterey!My Profile

    • says

      Thank YOU for reading it! I’ve been reminding myself more and more lately that I started the blog for ME and no one else. It’s easy to get caught up in our image and expectation of what it means to be a blogger or to be a writer. Love that this has become a part of YOU.
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing your writing process. I think I approach things similarly. I do a lot of “mind writing” and I rarely get posts done in advance. I try do a few on the weekend for the week ahead since I do have a full-time corporate job. I agree with you that this is not the best approach when it comes to editing, but that is where I stand today. I also still cringe at the idea of calling myself a writer – I’m growing though and I aspire to get a little better every day.
    Kerry recently posted..Summer Inspiration: 100 Things To Do Before We Grow UpMy Profile

  10. says

    I have been loving this tour. To see what works for others. I write in my head all the time. Usually while driving (Long Island girl) to and from work. The challenge is to get it down before the kids hit me up with all the wonderful things they want to tell me! I write everywhere too. Yesterday I started my grocery list then remembered I needed stuff from Target. I started my Target list which got me thinking about a guest post I need to write. All over my target list is this guest post with some ideas for this week’s dinners mixed in. Mom life…that is all I can say. LOL.
    Tara Newman recently posted..The Power of Organized ChangeMy Profile

  11. says

    My process is an odd one!
    I do still cringe when people call me a writer, and I cringe even more when they say I’m a photographer but fail to mention that I’m both.
    I guess I’m a hot mess about that!
    Tamara recently posted..Ready To Launch.My Profile

  12. says

    I am “mind writing” all the time as well. Inspiration can strike at any time so I always have a notebook with me. I actually majored in journalism and thought I’d be a magazine or newspaper editor out of college :) Where do you find your freelance work? I am trying to do freelance gigs as well!
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted..Chemicals In Beauty ProductsMy Profile

    • says

      Thank goodness I have a notepad or my phone with me all the time to write down the things that pop into my head during the day. Honestly, I’ve found freelancing work through friends and colleagues mostly. I pitch publications too but that always feels like I’m sending something into the ether with no expectation of hearing back!
      Christine Yu recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  13. says

    I write in my head a lot. But the difference is, when it comes to actually writing, my mind goes blank. I need someone to build a device that’s wires somehow to my brain and when I think words/ sentences, they take notes for me :)
    Alison recently posted..Dreaming of My MotherMy Profile

  14. says

    My blog post and video ideas come to me when I am sleeping or first thing in the morning, that’s when my brain is on the READY!! I get so excited when I am writing these ideas down and seriously think I need an award for creativity! LMFAO!!!! However, sometimes I DOOOOO get writer’s block, which scares me because I feel like I am never going to have my creative juices back, but they do… THEY DO COME BACK :D
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Exclusive Invite to the Party of the SummerMy Profile

  15. says

    I LOVE this and listening to your ‘writing tour’ because it gives me a snapshot into your brain and your day to day. I love writing yet lately, I have found less and less that I want to write about, and I am not sure why. Part of me has gotten more private and wanting to stay that way, I guess. But part of me wants to write write write. How is that possible?
    Jolene recently posted..Why April was a blur: my #LASEK story.My Profile

    • says

      Clearly I’m behind in responding to comments if I’m just responding to this now but it is quite timely because I feel the exact same way my friend. I love writing too but lately have been uninspired and also wanting to keep things private. I also feel like there’s so much noise out there on the internets and I don’t really want to contribute to that, you know?
      Christine Yu recently posted..Ask a Yogini: What is Pranayama?My Profile

  16. says

    Thank you for coining ‘mind-writing!’ I am a total running/shower writer, but never thought to give it a term before. The best ideas come, I believe, when distractions are limited and there’s just one thing to focus on – you!

    • says

      I’m not sure I can take credit for coming up with the term “mind-writing” but it’s so descriptive of what actually goes on in my head! It always blows me away how as soon as I have a moment of quiet to just be with my thoughts, and not worry about a million other things, that the ideas and inspiration comes!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Ask a Yogini: What is Pranayama?My Profile

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