Writing undressed

by Raymond Parker on July 18, 2011

in Blog, Writing

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Sartorial Disarray:
Hésiode et la Muse, Gustav Moreau, 1891

In my very first VeloWebLog post, I mentioned a writer who claims his words pour freely onto the page unedited. His well-oiled writing habits assure a steady flow of literary bonanzas.

Alas, it takes me days, sometimes weeks, to hammer out something I dare put my name to. Then, after I hit the publish button, I agonize over how embarrassing it is.

If you follow the advice on all those blogging blogs, you get up bright and early each day, breakfast on carrion, and sit down in your tweed jacket—the one with the leather elbow patches—to tap out your next post, of no more than 600 words, in short snappy paragraphs, concluding with an invitation to engage.

After all, readers these days scan rather than actually read.

In my case, I’m more likely to be caught (by whom, I’m not sure) in my underwear, at 3am, staring blankly at the glowing screen, trying to recall the brilliant thesis that woke me up.

Sure, I occasionally take note of some helpful bulleted list on Copyblogger. Then I forget it.

Fact is, I can only write when the Muse comes to me—either in bed (as mentioned), or in the shower. Either way, it seems the process requires some kind of sartorial disarray.

Other approaches would turn this calling into a job.

No thanks.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful to editors and grammar police, not to mention the patient teachers who taught me to write from left to right, so people didn’t have to read my scribbles in a mirror.

I envy technical writers, who labour daily to write printer manuals no one reads (They search YouTube for a video). How I wish I could turn out tutorials with such finesse, not to mention under a deadline.

Formulas guaranteed to triple traffic are tempting to try. Goodness knows, blueprints multiply in the Blogosphere like tract housing in the Nevada desert. But I’m going to hold on to that which sets me apart from “copy writers” and “content providers”: the right to not write.

Until the next time She disturbs my sleep, I remain your writer-in-reticence.

How do you write, and (if I may importune) what do you wear?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Richard Masoner July 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

My writing is usually stream of conciousness. FWIW. What I wear is none of your bidness. 🙂

Every once in a while I make the effort to put creativity, technique and thought into my writing. I’ll slave over several days, proofread, ask those close to me for suggestions & tweaks, and… nobody ever comments, retweets, or links to my masterpiece. More engagement seems to happen with the most random, short, off-the-cuff comments. I envy those who remain relevant AND quick with their writing.



Raymond Parker July 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm


Streaming consciousness in real time–now that would be an interesting blog!

I have also noticed that my 3500 word masterpieces, that took 3 months to write and $150 in long-distance calls to interview experts, are passed over for short “curatorial” posts.

I had to look up your last acronym in the urban dictionary. With the price of gas these days, I’m certainly interested in maximizing mileage of all kinds … though here it’s kilometreage, I guess, however ponderous that sounds.


Richard Masoner July 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Okay then, YKMV 🙂 errr, I guess YFEMV (Your Fuel Economy May Vary).


Ray Niekamp July 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I guess I’m not the only one whose well-researched posts get lower views than my off the cuff musings. Or maybe I just don’t understand my audience well enough.


Raymond Parker July 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I see a comparison experiment in the offing.

@Ray, I have a pretty good understanding of my audience, via analytics, but again it’s just in my nature to be unable to focus on one topic. I also know that non-cyclists visit for some of my other ruminations.

Obviously, the main subject here is cycling, and I reserve the main VeloWeb site for the technical details, but I’m usually thinking of anything but cycling.

Bikes, as wonderful as they are as representations of human ingenuity, are merely transportation for my mind.

I trust that other cyclists also entertain some of the other issues that I care about. This blog is where I let my mind wander.

@Richard, time will tell how many KPL (kilometres per litre) I get out of this approach. 🙂


Anabelle August 27, 2011 at 10:56 am

There is no such thing as pouring stream of unedited writing that comes out sparkling and perfect. Those who say that are liars or just don’t care about the quality of their writing. Read any meta-writing by writers and they’ll all tell you that writing is basically rewriting.


Raymond Parker August 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

As I said, I’m suspicious of such claims myself, but also have a friend who claims she writes this way.

I know she is a very smart person (an editor, in fact) and a prodigious reader and writer.

If she’s not having me on, all I can say is that I stand in awe.


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