The Grey Chronicles

2009.March.26

How Do I Write?



A number of readers of this blog asked me on how do I write these blogs? My usual answer is that, for me, writing comes almost naturally. Tonight, once I sat down to write another post I decided to illuminate readers on the process of writing posts instead of reviewing a book I recently read; yakking about my life in general; or ranting about my workplace in particular.

Frankly, I am not a good public speaker. When I speak, I tend to mumbled words; mistake my f’s with p’s; or usually forget names and even my own stories to tell. I found that I suck at speech when I was the “goat” in a class of 12, section 1, in a military academy. I also remembered the military dentist who once commented that it might be because my teeth formed an edge-to-edge conformation instead of the usual scissors-blades configuration.

Thus, instead of perfecting my speech, which I believed then was a hopeless case; I opted toward writing better. At least in some way, my lack of a perfect speech might be offset by some passable writing skills. Being a non-native Filipino speaker, I tried studying English grammar, composition, style, and of course, writing. In so doing, I believe I now think more in English rather than my native tongue. Even when I dream, the language the dream participants use are often times English.


Desktop Shortcuts of Probable PostsI usually begin with a set of two to three phrases, temporarily jotting them down in a Notepad text file, or a desktop shortcut. These word-phrases might be triggered with what I recently seen, heard, or read. These phrases could become potential titles or revolving themes on what I want to write. I would usually let the idea percolate in my mind for some time. In a week, I could have five or seven desktop shortcuts waiting to be transformed into posts. When the same phrases keep on popping back in my mind, it becomes a signal for me to sit and write a draft in Homesite HTML editor. Using this editor, it would also be possible to preview what the written page would look like in a browser, Internet Explorer or Firefox.

In the wee hours of the night, I write directly each word that comes to mind. Stopping once and a while to check the grammar. Never mind spell checking, the Homesite will take care of that latter. For the time being, what is essential is when words are pouring like rain these are written immediately. Yes, I do sometimes use a Thesaurus like TheSage especially when similar words keep on repeating themselves. I even use a dictionary to get a clearer definition of words to use.

In writing a post requiring some research, I would normally do my research first: read all the available data I could gather online, or if time permits re-read the available books in my small home library. If further confirmation of pulled information is needed, I would usually visit a school or public library to browse on the idea. Not to be persistent though, I would end my research once I have reached a point whereby I could sense that I have enough information to make a generalization or statement of fact from what I recently gathered. I also make it point to take note of the details of these references—books, articles, reports, etc.— for my usual fear of either plagiarizing or copying without authority someone else’s works.


I then make an impromptu critique of what was written in terms of style and syntax.

Style deals with spelling, punctuation, capitalization and typographical display. Spelling check can be done automatically with the HTML editor. For words incorrectly spelled, the English language dictionary included n the HTML editor would suggest correct words in its place. For punctuation and capitalization, I would normally try to check it myself as the HTML editor does not have this feature. I have also noticed lately that I am prone to using the elongated hyphen [—] for breaks in thought, and the ellipsis [. . .] for omissions. For typography, the HTML editor I use could easily make words in bold, italic, highlighted or what not.

Syntax is the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences. Decisions such as: would this sentence be more readable written as is or would it be more understandable if a change is done? If I delete a sentence, am I still conveying a clear message to my supposed readers? Moreover, I would try re-arranging the sentences or reordering of the paragraphs in my attempt of coherence for the whole piece.


Time is also allotted to prepare additional graphics or images to be included in the post. Frequently, though, some graphics are prepared beforehand using Microsoft Excel or Visio. Once the graphic is completed, I simply open up Microsoft Paint, paste the graphic through Microsoft’s Object Linking and Embedding [OLE] tool, re-size it, and save it as Portable Network Graphics, or .png format, which offers a small footprint in terms of file size. A snap freeware is also handy. This software could take a snapshot of whatever part of the desktop I could use as a graphic.

Using Homesite, the graphics are inserted and automatically given the proper codes, while I supply the necessary alternate [ALT] tags or web captions, and their positioning in a web page.


When the draft is completed, I would read [silently, of course, else my wife wakes up] the written words and make some minor editing: additions and deletions. Similarly, I would review the HTML codes for highlighted and quoted words. Based on my self-imposed rules on blogging, I insert the URL of necessary reference links and other attribution. The title might be changed appropriately. I do have this habit of transforming famous words and playing them up to my style.

Previewing the page on Firefox, copying the displayed text on to Notepad, yet again, I would select words to become the post Tags. These would help when other readers search similar tags on Google or Yahoo. [How I wish I could afford my own web domain so that I could upload tag plugin to my WordPress account. Supposedly, the Auto Tagger plugin by Saurabh Gupta makes the tagging automatically.]

I usually do not count the number of words I had written. I simply decide whether the post could stand on its own or would need another rehash before publishing it in this blog. For length, I try to keep it to a minimum whereby all the usual widgets in the blog are necessarily shown. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish a post. Posts with graphics take a little longer to complete because of additional HTML coding.

Posting to this blog can be through a Firefox Scribefire plugin or by going through the Admin Dashboard. Using the latter, copy-pasting the text, selecting the date of publication, category, and supplying a one-line summary; then clicking Publish button!

Hope you enjoy what you read much as I enjoyed writing them!


Notes:

Morales, Franc and Leah Gilner (2001-2009). TheSage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Princeton University. back to text

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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