How Writing is like Decorating a Christmas Tree


I sometimes surprise myself with the fact that writing a blog post, for me, is rarely a linear process. I don’t sit down, write it from beginning to end, edit from top to bottom and then post it. Maybe someday.

For me, it starts as ideas, sometimes sentences, which the little writer’s voice pitches at me. Then, I will sit down and start building the outline, like the tree trunk and the branches, of how the blog post might flow around those ideas.

The next step is to take the outline and add a few more words, as it begins looking like an actual blog post, like adding garland to fill in any gaps left behind by Mother Nature.

But then the little writer’s voice steps back into the picture, like a back seat driver, pitching more complementary ideas at me as I am starting to write. I jot them down and into the story wherever they might fit, like the first ornaments on the tree. I hope for the best.

When life happens and I need to move a load of laundry to the dryer, Ivy the cat needs attention or something needs to be taken out of the oven, what a surprise… another idea strikes! I then add it into the outline, only to realize this blog post has the potential to be 3000 words, much like having 3000 decorations to put on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

I keep developing the ideas and the outline, hoping they find root and develop into quality sentences and paragraphs. I also hope that they will work together with the other ideas, sentences and paragraphs. It’s like blending new ornaments with traditional ones… will the overall look work? We must keep at it to find out.

When the first draft is done, I step away, get another glass of egg nog and approach it again with a fresh pair of eyes and read from top to bottom. Rarely is it flowing at this point, it is just a collection of clustered ideas, like having too many Christmas lights at one extremity of the tree. Time to move some around.

After juggling a few sentences and paragraphs, I take another step back and read the overall product from top to bottom. Looks like I have too many adverbs here and too many prepositions here. Time to shuffle those around too like the ornaments on the tree.

In the meantime, new ideas pop into my head, like the lost ornaments in the attic, so I add them to the draft as well.

When I step away from the project for a bathroom break, competing ideas hit me, dismantling the entire storyline, like Ivy the cat climbing the tree and unintentionally knocking it down. But I try picking up the pieces that fell off and working with what remains, hoping that this opportunity to rearrange things only makes it even better in the long run. Time again to step back and see how it all comes together.

Upon completing the revision, I then notice that some ideas just don’t work anymore, like dead light bulbs in the light string. A few quick replacements, and the revision process starts again.

Decorating the tree and writing are so similar because they involve a lot of very granular detail work, getting just the right combination of tiny elements, and then taking a step back and reviewing the overall look of the project.

At the end of the process, the blog post and the tree should both be shimmering examples of how creativity and good editing go hand in hand, to create the perfect blog post and the perfect Christmas tree, topped off by a gold star!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under Christmas, Humour, Writing

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