How I Write

– Posted in: writing
When my writerly friend Kristin (of Two Cannoli) asked me to join in a blog tour which asks participants about their writing process, my initial reaction to her question was to suck in my breath and bite my lip. Contort my face. Oh, I wasn’t certain. Flattered! But really unsure. Did I even qualify for this blog tour? My writing is very sparse lately and Kristin’s writing is stunning. Perhaps you’ve seen her work around the internet? Like one of her popular joint HuffPost pieces with Alexandra Rosas What Will I Know? Yeah. Kristin knows her stuff. But then, as per usual, my second thought was eh, what the hell which is actually not a bad backup thought to have. No, cringe, withdraw. And then– Yes, smile, push forward. Plus, I do so love me some self-discovery. Joining this blog tour sounded like a great opportunity to talk about craft and maybe I’d learn something from the act? I said what the hell. And what the hell here we go.


1. What am I working on?
This is easy. Not a thing. Other than the occasional personal blog post, I’ve put on my oven mitts, picked up the roiling freelancing pot there on the stove, and gently placed it on the proverbial back burner. There are no current writing projects or big ideas in queue. And quite honestly, I’m loving having no commitments there. Write when I want to write. Blog when I want to blog. The end. For now.


Most of my steam these days is concentrated on self-preservation–with 4 children to wrangle, a household to run, a new house (to oversee) being built, and being 36+ weeks pregnant–my tank is often hovering just above E. Also I guess you could say I’m nesting. Here at our rental homestead we’re getting the birth space together for Cupcake. Homebirth kit is organized. The birth pool should be arriving this week. I have one more photo shoot on the books before Cuppie’s birthday. In the interim, the most important thing is to prepare my mind, body and spirit for childbirth and welcoming a new person to the planet in the most gentle, loving way I know how.


I’m really enjoying doing less than my norm, taking pics of my own children, and reflecting on our final days as a family of six before we become seven. Holy crap SEVEN.


2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?
You know, I have no idea if my writing really does differ from others of its genre. I like to think I mix heart with humor and sometimes polish what I find to be a gem–rather than the usual ordinary stone (though I love those ordinary stones too)–but that could be wishful thinking. Anyway, isn’t that what many others do as well? It doesn’t matter to me so much how my writing differs, only that it remains true to ME. I think the best writing is authentic writing. I’m most concerned with mastering my own voice. And that’s a constant quest for any writer. Because voice changes. I’d like to walk beside my voice rather than constantly chase after it.


My writing is definitely heavily influenced by my photography. It’s often hard to say which comes first, the idea for a post or the picture I’m including in the post. I don’t even bother posting unless I’ve got a picture to share too. (Did you notice the random pictures I’m including in this one?) Can’t help it. I’m very visual. Need images paired with words. NEED. Need. They more than help me tell these stories.


3. Why do I write what I do?
I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I went to a Montessori preschool and Kindergarten. One of my earliest memories there was sitting with the smooth tile sets and tracing my finger over the sand-paper letters adhered to each. I traced A an B and C and so on and all the while I remember feeling happy as those letters scratched and tickled. As a child I wrote books and poems for relatives on their birthdays or as Christmas presents. I kept diaries, then journals because journals sounded way cooler when I was in high school. But it wasn’t until I became a mother in my mid-twenties when a stumbled upon a whole new well of feelings and thoughts and thingsIneededtosayandhaveheardbyothers.


I write what I write (my life) to remember. I write to know what I already know. I write to learn more. I write so that I don’t burst open at the seams.


4. How does my writing process work?
For better or worse, I love immediacy. I could blame the times, my iPhone, easy access to information and sharing. I could blame pop culture, society, or something. But I know it’s really me. I have to remind myself, force myself to slow it the EFF down. And I’m talking about in all aspects of my life, writing included.


I do a ton of writing in my head. Sometimes I actually see my thoughts as arranged in sentences and paragraphs, whether or not I’m technically “writing.” So know that when you’re reading a blog post, 99% of the time I’ve JUST cranked it out moments before I hit publish. Sure, I’ve read it ten to twenty times through and edited as I went   along, but as far as having lots of posts in the draft stage? Uh uh. No. That’s not my style. Goes back to immediacy I think. Also why I must write–so what’s inside of me doesn’t shrivel up and croak.


I had a poetry professor in college who once told us that poetry was the highest art form of all, but especially tops in the writing world. Of course he thought that; he was A POET for crying out loud, and I mighty pompous one at that. But every word, he said, every punctuation mark, every line break, every letter, every positive or negative space–mattered. Mattered so much–that your message, the power and the glory and all of creation basically depended upon it. So we should choose wisely. Craft consciously. Be deliberate, bold, as brief as we must. Every time I write–I let that thought be my overarching guide.


* * * * *

Part of the blog hop is asking two more writers to answer these questions. First I thought of a blog bud, Jennifer P. Williamsand was thrilled when she said sure thing. I love Jennifer’s down-home style. She has an easy way with words and her stories are always sprinkled with wisdom. That’s how I think of Jennifer–just wise. In fact she offers a series on her blog called Advise This. If you’ve got a question, problem, or some situation wherein you need a little guidance, she’s your woman. You’ll feel her genuineness down in your bones. 


Next I thought of Angela Youngblood of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed I began reading Angela’s blog back when I co-hosted a weekly linkup called #ippp with my friend Greta.  Fast forward to present and now Angela is one of the co-hosts for that linky! As a fellow mama of four I immediately felt a kinship with her and her brood, but more so the reason I keep going back to her blog– she makes me feel happy. Angela is a bright light. She knows how to have fun and see the good. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and still you can’t help but smile your way through her posts. And her vlogs. She is funny. 


Be sure to check out Jennifer’s and Angela’s responses to these questions! They’ll be posting their answers later this week. Viva the tour!
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I'm a mom of five, wife to one, life-long Louisvillian. Six years ago I put down the key to my middle school classroom and picked up a camera instead. Now a pro photographer, writer and activist, I blog to share with you those passions and to spread good feelings through the words and pictures you find here.

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14 Comments… add one

Jennifer April 14, 2014, 2:24 pm

Thank you so much for asking me to be next. My face is burning with the blush of compliments. I think all of those things about Angela too. She exudes content.

I love what you say about being deliberate. I don’t find that I am, but I wish that I could me.
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Anna Whiston-Donaldson
April 14, 2014, 2:33 pm

I loved reading this, Sarah. I love getting a glimpse into your days and your heart.

April 14, 2014, 3:39 pm

This was lovely. I love how you answered the question about how your writing style differs. I have felt the same way. I don’t know if mine does differ, so I choose not to worry about it. :)
Laura recently posted…The Best MedicineMy Profile

April 14, 2014, 4:00 pm

Oh yes, you do have that wonderful mix of heart and humour and all your posts are gems as far as I’m concerned.
I loved reading this, Sarah :)
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Kim April 14, 2014, 11:36 pm

I admire that you can write and edit and BOOM – publish. I am a mull-it-over-er. I write and think and leave it and come back. I end up with lots of drafts that sometimes go nowhere. :)
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Elaine A.
April 15, 2014, 3:33 am

I adore your writing. I was so glad to find it again about a year or so ago. And you and I have the photos in common. Many times those inspire me as well. Okay, most of the time. :)

LOVED reading this, thank you for sharing it with us, Sarah!

Angela Youngblood
April 15, 2014, 3:34 am

I’m so honored to be a part of this and thank you so much for your kind words. I loved learning more about your process–the why’s and the how’s and the when’s. I love your authenticity. This spoke to me so much–“I write what I write (my life) to remember. I write to know what I already know. I write to learn more. I write so that I don’t burst open at the seams.” YES!!!!! Love you, your words and your pictures.
Angela Youngblood recently posted…DiscoveringMy Profile

April 15, 2014, 7:06 am

I love what you said about ‘immediacy’, because that’s how I write too. I crank the out and just hit publish.

Love that you’re nesting. That’s what matters now. xo
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Judy Charlotte April 15, 2014, 7:08 am

Thank you for sharing your journey into being a writer. Love it!
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April 15, 2014, 1:01 pm

I love your writing and I love learning more about how and why you write. This was great.
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Lady Jennie
April 15, 2014, 6:19 pm

Your pictures just take my breath away, but it’s true – you have a beautiful voice in between the pictures. I’m glad you did this exercise. I agree with your poetry teacher and think that writers have something to learn from poets. (Even pompous ones).
Lady Jennie recently posted…Artichoke Heart AppetizerMy Profile

April 15, 2014, 8:20 pm

Love this…and it’s exactly how I write…mostly in my head.
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April 15, 2014, 9:34 pm

I write in my head, too- and I’d say you’re working on PLENTY. 😉 Also? I marvel at your photography.
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Andrea April 24, 2014, 12:32 pm

I just love your honest, real approach to writing. It\’s not magic or mysterious – it just is. It\’s your thoughts right now – which makes it so relatable and warm and inviting. Just like you!
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