Some words steep like a good pot of tea for hours and some for even days. Sometimes the words or stories change so much from the original idea, that even I the writer have a hard time remembering what they looked like in the beginning. Of course, I’m not always sitting for hours writing and rereading and tweaking a story. But sometimes I am.
I have a number of saved Word documents in various stages of readiness, as well as random pages of scribbled notes, and several books containing future blog and story ideas. The first words for today’s blog post were written several weeks ago. They had been sitting in rough outline form in a computer file, just waiting to see the light of day. I came back to them this morning, when my waking thoughts made them something I wanted to write about today. I worked on it for a couple of hours and then left them as I headed to church and a movie with a friend.
Throughout my life, I have tried to follow the tried and true method of my high school English teachers who cautioned that turning in a paper written in the hallway fifteen minutes before class, was not going to earn an A. You may not have had the same teachers as I did, but I’m thinking it was a lesson many teachers taught (and hopefully still teach) countless students all around the world. The lesson, and it is still a good one, is that after writing something, you need to let it sit for a while. This was especially true when writing at night. It was advised that both you and your words needed to get some rest overnight. In the morning, with fresher eyes and a fresher perspective, you generally see or catch things (spelling, spacing and grammar errors, incorrect word usage, and missing words) your tired eyes or brain may have missed the night before.
Now when I write, I am also aware of the word count number. I seldom have problems coming up with words, since generally both my handwritten pages and electronic documents are overflowing with all kinds of them. It is the number guidelines or submission restrictions that keep me tweaking and sifting through the words. I really do my best to keep to the word count suggested by the experts, no more than 700 – 750 words. That’s the average number of words the typical reader of an article will read without losing interest. More times than not, I find myself staring at a 4-digit word count instead of a 3-digit one, and then the sifting begins…or continues. Sometimes in the process, I realize I have two stories or blog posts and not just one.
My mother was a wise woman and even though she has been gone for more than 40 years, many of her sayings or words resonate with me and still apply to today.
- Write legibly. Your handwriting might be the only thing someone ever knows you by. You should want to make a good impression.
- Only share what you wouldn’t mind seeing on a bill board.
- Don’t hang your dirty laundry in public.
- If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
Sometimes I hear her words softly replaying in my mind while I am working on a blog post or composing an email. Especially in the Internet world we live in, when you hit send on your words, your time and ability to take them back is rather limited. Many times they are gone forever.
As of today, I have 23 people following my blog, and the number of hits or times someone has clicked into it is at 2130. I am beyond grateful for each one of you as you continue to take time out of your lives to check in and read what I’ve written. And when you share your own words or comments with me, I’m truly thrilled to read them. The whole interaction and experience of knowing that you somehow connected to my words or found them worth reading, is both heartwarming and humbling.
P.S. In case you’re wondering…this post contains 700 words – success! Oops, 704. See what I mean? 709.