Nancy Ward at JOY Alive in our hearts tagged me in her post yesterday on her writing process. Apparently, there is an ongoing blog tour of the subject among writers. Since it’s a good time to update my readers on my projects, I will answer Nancy’s questions in this post and hand the baton to another Catholic writer to follow me.
1. What are you working on?
Unless you are new to Contemplative Homeschool, you know I am finishing writing Trusting God with St. Therese. I received some great feedback from my beta readers (first reviewers). Now my husband Dan is helping me with final edits. He is Director of Communications for the Diocese of New Ulm and a former editor. And he is tough, but loving–just the combination I need.
As soon as Dan is finished, I will offer review copies to some other Catholic writers and a small number of my subscribers. Then beginning in June I have many events planned leading up to my book launch. Stay tuned!
I have also just begun to make templates for parents to use in directing their children’s spiritual growth. I may make substantial booklets for each of the four temperaments and offer them for sale in the future. In the meantime, I’ll share some of the templates with my blog readers for free.
2. What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
Most books of Catholic spirituality written today–and many blogs–aim at beginners in the spiritual life. I write for people already striving to live a life of holiness, who have gotten stuck or don’t know what to do next.
I provide concrete and practical steps readers can take to grow. I can’t help sometimes using big words. After all, they say you should write like you speak, and I’m a word-lover. On the other hand, I am not a theologian, and I don’t write like one. If you want to learn intricate philosophy or theology, take a college course. If you want a teaching the average person can understand, you’re in the right place.
The other significant way my writing is different is that I help you guide your entire family towards holiness. For example, I teach readers how to practice mental prayer. Then I teach them to introduce their children to mental prayer. Even if your children are in traditional school, you are their first teachers in the faith.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I am a natural-born teacher. When I learn something new, I’m excited about it. I immediately want to share it. Education and spiritual growth are the perennial [big word alert] topics I read about. My blog readers are often my first “students” as I muse on what I read.
I test my theories here, reflect on the comments I receive, then consider whether a future book is in order.
4. How does your writing process work?
I do a lot of thinking before a word goes on the page. For a blog post, I often have most of it written in my head before I sit down at the computer. Then the actual writing comes quickly with little revision needed.
For a book, I break it down by chapter and make a few notes on each one. Then I write a few chapters, read it, re-write, and take some time to think about how the direction of the book has changed in the writing of it. I keep repeating that until the final chapter is done. So I do a lot of rewriting and even editing as I go along, rather than waiting until the end.
I also do a lot of self-editing as I write. Conventional writing wisdom says you shouldn’t think about grammar and structure on the first draft–just get the words down. But I usually have no problem doing both and saving myself a re-write or two.
And now, for one of my favorite writers to pass these questions to: Terry McDermott of 8 Kids and a Business. Enjoy reading Terry’s answers and her great blog.