One of the tricky things about blogging for me is that I almost always compose blog entries in WordPress’ editor. This means that I have to have an Internet connection in order to write. Only one time in recent memory have I begun writing a blog entry offline: my love letter to giant crocodilians was born on my Treo 650 while I was in a restaurant waiting to meet Laura and Kyle for dinner after work one day. Writing on the Treo isn’t anything approaching fun. Granted, it has a “full” keyboard, which I prefer when sending text messages, but anything beyond the 140-character bursts of text that comprise SMS messages is a bit of a chore.
I used to carry a small notepad and pen in my back pocket, intending to write blog entries (and story ideas and anything else I needed to capture when I was away from a computer) longhand and then transcribe them to WordPress at my leisure. It was a great theory, and if you can’t see where this is going you haven’t been listening to me whine about not being able to write long enough.
This week, Chris Miller and I began meeting at a local coffee shop for an hour before work to write. I started working on a short story that had been rattling around in my head for all of fifteen minutes before I sat down at the coffee shop; Chris wrote a blog entry. I couldn’t get on the coffee shop’s wi-fi network until this morning, when I finally realized that I needed a WEP key. Now I have access to the dread Internets and all of the distractions they bring; I could, were I so inclined, fire up WordPress and bang out a blog entry—writing is writing. ((It feels like a cop out to be meta-blogging on this, the third day of coffee shop writing, but the fiction I’m writing has turned into a parable, for crying out loud, and all of a sudden I need to have a moral for the story; I, who can never see the end of a story when I begin writing it, need to be able to wrap the whole thing up and say this is the lesson we’ve learned, children. Yikes.))
Instead, I’m writing this in Geany, the Puppy Linux equivalent to Microsoft’s Notepad. It’s an experiment of sorts: focus on the content and worry about the formatting later. Because when I write in WordPress, I’m constantly previewing the entries to see how they flow on the page (especially if I’m including any kind of graphic) instead of just writing until I feel like I’m done and then going back to tweak and nudge things or, in other words, edit. It’s bad enough that I constantly edit the content while I’m writing (something I’ve never really been able to completely abandon, despite four years of NaNoWriMo), but when I’m in a WYSIWYG editor I constantly mess with the formatting, as well. I just have a hard time dealing with the concept of a draft; everything has to be as finished as I can possibly make it before I move on to the next page, paragraph, sentence or word.
Writing doesn’t work that way in the real world, and I’m very well aware of that. Of course, there’s a big difference between recognizing your weakness and overcoming it. But this is the first step in a new experiment: content first, formatting last. I’ll finish writing this draft in Geany, then copy and paste it into what passes for a Write Post interface in WordPress these days ((Bitter much?)) and make any edits before posting. Or maybe I’ll just delete the whole damn whiny, introspective, woe-is-me mess and move on and no one (except Chris, who knows I’m meta-blogging right now) will be any the wiser.