The Notebook

25 May

Some people have asked me how I go about writing a post. Seriously, there are people who are curious as to what my creative process is. Why? Who knows. Perhaps to figure out what not to do when constructing what you hope to be a successful blog.

The life cycle of a post is different for each author. Some people type furiously, and click publish. Other people are more methodical, and choose to start with an outline and work from there. My process begins with with my undiagnosed case of ADD, and ends in random phrases jotted down in a notebook.

A notebook is a writer’s best friend, and you should have one with you at all times. My mind races a mile a minute, and I get posts for ideas all the times. Sometimes it’s just the title, other times it’s one sentence that will fuel an entire 800 word rant. Everything needs to be written down somewhere, and my thoughts always end up in my trusty notebook, on post-it notes, or on my arm.

Here’s a “behind the scenes” look at what happens before I submit my posts to the WordPress gods for public consumption. If you’re curious as to the finished piece which came from the scribblings on the notebook picture, you can click here.

All I need is a copy of Catcher in the Rye in my backpack, and I’m a criminal profiler’s prime suspect

My initiation tats for the WordPress gang I joined

My initiation tats for the WordPress gang I joined

When I’m ready to write a post I take my ideas, and turn phrases into sentences into paragraphs. I write the meat of the post first, then the beginning, then the end. I don’t understand how you can write an intro without knowing where the story goes; conversely, how you write a closing paragraph without knowing where you’ve been? That’s my method anyway…

I want to give a shout-out to two dear friends who inspired this post in full by giving their readers glimpses into the work which goes into their crafts.

TJ Lubrano is…well, she’s a pirate and an artist and a lover of cupcakes. She likes to do the ZOING dance (don’t ask me, I think it’s a thing from The Netherlands) and watches Disney movies. She’s loves to participate in all forms of mirth and merriment. She’s absolutely adorable in every way possible, and her art is a whimsical explosion of color. Her blog A Look in a Creative Mind is devoted to showing you her artistic process, and trust me when I say that there is no way you can look at her doodles and not smile.

Bill Friday is one of my favorite people in the world. He likes breaded meat (how has our friendship lasted this long?) and loves watching horror films. He’s a coffee addict, and sucks at putting Ikea furniture together. He is a phenomenal writer, and an even better friend. His blog It’s Always Friday is a collection of angsty goodness, poetry, life reflections and the occasional look into the screenplay he’s writing. This is his “man behind the curtain” post, and I think you’ll love hisΒ  sentiments just as much as I did.

It was fun writing this because I’ve never actually thought about my process for making a post happen. I just sort of do it, and never give it a second thought. I encourage any of you to examine this on your own blogs, but if you do, I demand that you give me credit, and use the phrase “earth-shatteringly sexy” somewhere in your description of me.

Oh, and lastly, I want to apologize for any of you who thought this post might be about that movie starring Rachel McWhatsherface and Ryan Whythehellisheeverywherethesedays. I’m not sorry I mislead you, but I am sorry you were interested in reading about that film.

48 Responses to “The Notebook”

  1. SummerSolsticeGirl 05/30/2012 at 11:44 pm #

    That reminds me… I have an entry in my notebook for a post about, get this, my notebook. Even took the pics and everything. And then never got around typing it πŸ˜›

  2. SummerSolsticeGirl 05/30/2012 at 11:25 pm #

    I HEART your notebook!

    And I absolutely agree with you on everything πŸ™‚

  3. crubin 05/30/2012 at 8:27 am #

    I’m not sure how I made it before post-it notes. If there’s not sticky adhesive covering every surface of my home by the end of the week, then I know it’s going to be a slow writing week…

    • Jen and Tonic 05/30/2012 at 10:33 pm #

      You may be single-handedly supporting the post-it industry. You better be getting a fat kickback.

  4. Main Street Musings Blog 05/27/2012 at 6:06 am #

    Thanks for sharing the method to your madness. My writing is also very methodical: I use tea leaves to guide me–ever since the magic eight ball method became too depressing: “Magic eight ball, will anyone read this post?” Reply: “Don’t count on it.”

    • Jen and Tonic 05/28/2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Your magic eight ball gives you the same answer I always get to the questions “Are my parents proud of me?” and “Do people wish I wasn’t dead?”

  5. Bill Friday 05/26/2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Let me begin by saying that chicken fried steak isn’t the devil, and is best enjoyed while watching a Criminal Minds marathon on Ion TV (because Ion allows more in-context curse words than A&E), but I blurt in digression. And the thought of including the supremely talented TJ Lubrano classed-up this post that was obviously classed-down by my inclusion in it. Oh, and don’t worry TJ, you aren’t the only one who has thought of the earth-shatteringly sexy Ms Tonic in a toga dress and strappy Spartacus sandals. And speaking of all things Greek, I’m pretty sure the word ZOING is really just the Greek word for UNTZ.

    And don’t tell anyone (except maybe speaker7) but I’m doing Kegels as I’m writing this. Next time I post, one of my tags is going to be #doingkegelswithspeaker7.

    In closing, I have it on good authority that Dr. Reid would like to profile you now. No need to bring your copy of Catcher in the Rye… he has it memorized. As for helping friends move, three months after I helped Sharlene move, I had hernia surgery… so much for friends helping friends. My recovery is going nicely though, and I should have Ryan Gosling’s abs by the first week in August…

    …and it takes a keeper to know a keeper.


    • Sharlene 05/26/2012 at 8:33 pm #

      Heart you too Friday πŸ™‚

    • TJLubrano 05/27/2012 at 2:09 am #

      Classed down? Please do not be silly Bill! Also, I totally forgot to use the words earth-shatteringly sexy.

      *bows for the earth-shatteringly sexy Ms. Tonic in her Greek outfit*

      Now…I used it twice hehe.

      • Jen and Tonic 05/28/2012 at 1:41 pm #

        TJ wins for using earth-shatteringly sexy twice. She knows saying it once is simply not enough.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/28/2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Okay, I bow down to your commenting ways. You really are the master of it, aren’t you? The rest of Team Tonic is going to have to step up its game if they want to stay in the competition.

      Also, how DARE you say you classed down this post. There is nobody unclassier on this blog than me. Isn’t that why people are here? I’m like an episode of COPS…it’s the crappy part of society you can’t help but watch.

      I knew people did kegels when we were talking!!! Your johnson can probably lift paint cans.

      I promise if I ever move, I’ll only allow you to carry the pillows and blankets. One hernia is enough for a lifetime.


  6. Mike Beaumont 05/26/2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Awesome doodles. I am not one for carrying around a notebook, but I do make express use of my iphone and it’s many app’s. Sometimes I pick up ideas from a story I read, or maybe a movie I watched, ya just never know what is going to inspire a story to be told. I think I discovered some of my talent when I was growing up and telling stories to the neighborhood kids, or my mom and her friend as we were driving to the cabins for the weekend. I also use up lots of sticky notes. Love the armpad though. Little hard to erase, but effective.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/28/2012 at 1:29 pm #

      It seems like using the phone is people’s choice method! I do have an app on my phone that allows me to record things for those moments when using a notebook is dangerous (like when I’m driving) but I’m just so used to the notebook method.

      My arm is a great place to put things only because I’m never without it πŸ˜‰

  7. TJLubrano 05/26/2012 at 2:21 am #

    Ms. Sharp! A cupcake eating pirate…haha. You are really too sweet! Not sugary sweet, but the good kind of sweet. Aight, ya know what I mean right? Thank you so much for the shout-out and being mentioned in one post with B(r)ill(iant) Friday…I am really honored πŸ™‚ Hugs to You!

    Peeking in your brain! I love peeks (as you already know haha). I always find it interesting to know how a final piece gets created. That’s probably why I’m always showing my own peeks as it wouldn’t be fair to only expect others to show process bits and you keep everything hidden in a chest. You have to be the person you want to see/read…something like that. I’m trying to be wise without enough coffee in my system…not a good move. Same with cooking, I love the entire process and then present it on a plate and then stare for a bit. With writing, I have a notebook or I should say many loose papers/post-its haha. I have lots of article drafts on my laptop and sometimes I don’t use them at all or I just use a tiny bit mixed with other topics. For the stories I write (but not many know about)…usually I can write large pieces at once as the inspiration just keeps on coming, not that everything I think of is good though, but you always have the editing process after the “ramble type” phase haha. In the end, no real system here for capturing my thoughts, although I haven’t written on my arm yet though hehe.

    Oh! I believe Cilla mentioned the ZOING for the first time to you? I shall ask her what dance move it is and then it’s my mission to find a video that shows it.

    Also, reading your title, I knew I’d see a picture of your notebook and then I saw a floating notebook in my brain. I didn’t get the film reference whatsoever (sorrry Katy!)

    Grazie, grazie, grazie!! ❀

    /end rambling

    • Jen and Tonic 05/28/2012 at 1:26 pm #

      I’m so glad you liked this post πŸ™‚ I’ve always really enjoyed seeing how you go about creating your art. You take simple sketches and bring them to life. I am amazed at how much differently the pictures look once you’ve added color.

      Oh, and I agree with what you’ve said about being the writer you want to read. I approach my blog that way! I couldn’t find female writers (at the time, I’ve found a ton now) who just wrote about their mental instability, or the hard parts of being a woman. Who were just silly I guess….I wanted that, so I wrote it.

      Yes, Cilla mentioned the ZOING to me. I’d love to know what that looks like. I think it could top the UNTZ~

      Oh, and I love the name B(r)ill(iant) Friday. We’re going to have to make that catch on!!


  8. writerwendyreid 05/25/2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Ok….first of all, The Notebook is probably the only love story I have wanted to watch more than once….so back off. πŸ˜›
    Your process for blogging is interesting. Mine is much simpler. Once a week, whether I have a good idea or not, I make myself squeeze out a new post in the hopes to catch a few more adoring fans.
    So far, it’s not really working. πŸ˜›

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:50 pm #

      You liked The Notebook? As your friend I must respect your decision…or wait, as a friend should I stop you from watching bad films? πŸ˜‰

      I think the way you go about it good in terms of forcing yourself to write something. They say that a writer should keep writing, even if it’s crap, or they’re uninspired. It’s the act of writing that makes them stronger.

      And hey, you have an adoring fan in me! AM I NOT WOMAN ENOUGH FOR YOU?

      • writerwendyreid 05/27/2012 at 5:58 pm #

        If I had just you and Gemini girl as followers, that would be enough. I am grateful for every person out there who, for some odd reason that I am yet to understand, think I am interesting enough to follow. πŸ™‚

  9. Fish Out of Water 05/25/2012 at 7:11 pm #

    I love getting to know someone’s process. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed this πŸ™‚

  10. Sharlene 05/25/2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Fun stuff JT, keep up the great work πŸ™‚ As for Friday . . . he’s the kind of great guy that would help you move if you needed it (speaking from personal experience) πŸ˜‰

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks lady! It was nice to see you here πŸ˜€

      You got Mr. Friday to flex his muscles and help you move? I’ve heard that that’s how you can tell you’ve got a good friend– when they’re there during move day. He’s a keeper!

      • Sharlene 05/26/2012 at 8:31 pm #

        He’s definitely a keeper as are you Ms. Tonic πŸ˜‰ ❀ you both xoxo

  11. speaker7 05/25/2012 at 4:36 pm #

    This is an earth-shattering sexy blog post right there, let me tell you. My process is to bang my head into my dining room table until I’m semi-conscious. Then it’s magic time.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:47 pm #

      Thank you for noticing my sexiness!!! You write better with a concussion than most of do with full brain power.

      And, ahem, did you see the tags for this post? πŸ˜‰

      • speaker7 05/26/2012 at 4:25 am #

        Oh my god! I was too busy trying to decipher who the serial killer could be from that notebook picture to look at those tags. I believe it is white male between the ages of 45-60. He has long sideburns, wears a necklace of chicken feet and owns an extensive collection of musical theater LPs that he cannot play because he doesn’t own a record player. This is why he kills.

        I feel beyond honored especially since it’s included along with chicken friend steak is the devil.

        • Jen and Tonic 05/26/2012 at 8:53 pm #

          Speaker7, you’re getting sort of a reputation around here. Bill Friday, as you’ll see from his comment below, is now going to refer to you in his tags as well.

          Welcome to fame.

          • speaker7 05/27/2012 at 7:28 am #

            This is so amazing. Just the other day, someone asked what I wanted to be remembered for and I responded “my stronger than steel kegel muscles.” Dream come true.

  12. paralaxvu 05/25/2012 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for showing us how you do it…I have my own way, but can always use input from others whose writing I like. And thanks also for sending me on to more interesting blogs…

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:46 pm #

      I agree that discovering new methods of writing is helpful in your own writing. I do that too!

      I really do hope you enjoy those blogs as much as I do πŸ™‚

  13. Sword-chinned bitch 05/25/2012 at 11:18 am #

    Tee hee — “All I need is a copy of Catcher of Rye in my backpack, and I’m a criminal profiler’s prime suspect.” You write so well, it’s easy to stay interested in your posts! I appreciate hearing your process. My process is similar, but it depends, sometimes I just sit down and blurt something out…

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked hearing about how I do it.

      It seems just blurting things out is the choice method of writing! I need to get on the bandwagon!!!

  14. Just Rambling 05/25/2012 at 11:09 am #

    Definitely a GREAT idea! Yup! I casually use my iPhone as a notebook for my WordPress. And then I have a real notebook, but LOL… I should NEVER EVER write a post about what I write in that notebook! πŸ˜€

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:10 pm #

      Now I want to see what’s in this notebook!!!!!

  15. Dani Heart 05/25/2012 at 9:48 am #

    I wasn’t misled at all. πŸ™‚ I have never given much thought to my creative process. So much of it happens in my head. I do carry a notebook with me everywhere and I do jot things down from time to time, but on the whole that process happens in my head. My creations brew until they are just right and then spill forth, and I always make sure I have the notebook so that when they do wherever I am, and it’s usually not convenient, I have a place to write them down. LOL I have enjoyed the peek into your creative process though Jen very much. I like your notebook, and the writing on your arm. πŸ˜‰

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:10 pm #

      I have written entire pieces in the shower, or while I’m on a lunch break, but for the most part, I only get bits and pieces at a time. I’m very much in awe of people who do this on a regular basis because it’s such a magical thing for it to just come like that to you.

      Also, I TOTALLY agree about it not being convenient the when you really need to write something down. I now have a voice recording app on my phone for that reason.

  16. Katy Kern 05/25/2012 at 9:04 am #

    For the first time, EVER, I did not think about a movie when I read a title of this blog…that’s the power you have, my dear. hahaha.

    Thanks for sharing your ways to creating your wonderful gift of writing. I am always in awe of your ability to take a simple to very complex theme and turn it into something funny and though-provoking. You are one of my writing gods! The others you mentioned are on that list as well. Both TJ & Mr. Friday are extremely talented writers and creators. Plus, they may be the two nicest people I have ever met (okay, only met one in person). πŸ™‚

    Thank you for letting the rest of the world know a little more about you. We are better for it. REALLY!!!

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:05 pm #

      WHAT?! You didn’t think about a movie. My goodness, what have I done to you?

      I’m one of your writing gods? It sounds like you worship at the altar of crazy, and I gotta say, I’m loving it!

      Thanks for your kind words Ms. Kern πŸ™‚

    • TJLubrano 05/26/2012 at 3:09 am #

      Katy!! Thank you so much as well πŸ™‚ And we will meet one day in person and then we’ll do a little dance ^_^ ❀

      I totally agree with Jen being a Writing God(dess! Ohhh I picture her in a greek outfit now haha.)

  17. Rob Rubin 05/25/2012 at 8:53 am #

    My doctors handwriting would prevent me from using a notebook as every post would end up being just a random collection of garbled letters.

    I uses to actually write countless drafts. But now I’ve trained my mind to write the perfect post every time.

    • paralaxvu 05/25/2012 at 11:23 am #

      Rob, as a former medical transcriptionist, I’d suggest you should probably also forgo any dictating of your posts. You docs are as bad at that as at handwriting;-) And thank you for an idea for my own post! My posts, otoh, are not methodical at all…the first pong ball to crash out of the margin of my mentality gets the keyboard, and it goes from there. Or not…

    • Jen and Tonic 05/25/2012 at 10:03 pm #

      A random collection of garbled letters could be your angle. You could just tell them that they’re obtuse, and your work is too deep for them to understand.


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