Last year, my resolution for the new year was to start a blog and post as often as I could. This year, one of my resolutions is to be more organized and regular about posting. I particularly want to be more faithful about posting my weekly lectionary reflections (those vaguely sermon-ish things that make up the vast majority of my blog posts), but I also plan on continuing to post articles and prayers I’ve written from time to time.
Lately I’ve been asked a few times about my writing process with regards to the aforementioned lectionary-based posts. So, I thought I’d share that with you.
Granted, these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes the whole thing comes to me on Monday morning, so I write it in its entirety and schedule it to be posted later in the week. And sometimes, especially lately with the holidays and a slew of technology issues, I don’t get a lectionary post written for a particular week. (Again, I’ve resolved to do better about that in 2016.)
But here’s the basic process:
Monday: On Monday, I take my first look at all four lectionary readings, noting things I might like to research further, words or phrases to look at in the original language, what sticks out to me, and just whatever pops into my head as I’m reading. Sometimes the thoughts are a little random or scattered, but I write them down anyway. You never know what might lead somewhere. Also, if there’s a current event that might tie in, a secular holiday coming up, or something like that, I make a note of that too.
Tuesday: Tuesday is my most labor-intensive day—it’s the day I do all my research. Anything I earmarked for further research on Monday—whether that’s historical context, a language question, something cultural that warranted further research, or the history of a tradition in the Church—gets looked up in detail on Tuesday, and I take lots of notes. Also, if there’s a movie, video clip, podcast episode, sermon, or other media I might want to reference part of, I usually re-watch it on Tuesday. Sometimes I end up in a dubiously-relevant rabbit hole while researching, but as long as I’m not super crunched for time, I usually go with it, because again, you never know what might lead somewhere.
Wednesday: I use Wednesday as my synthesis day. Monday and Tuesday both generate huge mental messes—all sorts of ideas, pages and pages of research on a number of topics, lots of random thoughts on all four readings, and so forth. This generally kind of makes me want to cry a little bit when I look at it. I keep every single word of my research and ideas (because it may come in handy later), but on Wednesday, I open a brand new Word document and start putting together ideas and information in a coherent way. Usually this is when a clear theme emerges if one hasn’t already.
Thursday: Thursday is the day on which the post gets written in its entirety. I construct a very detailed outline, leaving myself little (if any) work to do over the weekend. The outline usually goes through three or four drafts before everything seems to flow right. Even still, once the piece itself is written, I often move stuff around, add stuff, and subtract stuff prior to publishing it. I never know quite what it’s going to look like until I’ve actually written it. Then I preview the post to make sure I catch any typos.
Once all the writing is finished, there still are a few little things left to do: designating the appropriate tags, choosing a header image, picking a title, and choosing a short excerpt or blurb that will appear with the post on social media. Then I’m ready to hit “publish” and send my post out into the world!