Inside My Writing Process

Last Monday, Nancy from The Real Nani shared her writing process with her readers on an author blog tour. She tagged me and asked me if I wanted to play along.

At first glance, the questions seemed really easy to answer. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized a had A LOT to say.

Inside My Blog Writing Process

What am I working on?

If you are a long time reader of A Cookie Before Dinner, you have likely noticed my posting schedule has gone down drastically the last six weeks. I was posting 3-4 times a week on a pretty consistent basis until my blogcation. That week away was intentional, so I could regain my focus and plan for the second quarter.

What I wasn’t expecting was to make an emergency trip to Florida the next week to visit Michael’s 93 year old grandmother whose kidneys were failing. We packed in a hurry and drove 24 hours straight through. We spent a glorious week with her and our family saying our last goodbyes. We were almost completely unplugged, save for our phones.

During that week away, I learned a lot about priorities and work life balance. I’m working on posting more frequently than once a week. I’m working on writing with an intentional focus on my words. I’ve stopped drafting in my platform and am writing things in Word first. I get too distracted when I’m online.

I'm working on not being a comma abuser.
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I’m working on reading words written on paper and stepping outside of my writing comfort zone. I’m going to have a piece published in the June issue of a magazine. I’m working on filling up my idea bucket, so when I come to the computer to write, I’m not starting from scratch.

I’m working one on one with a friend during her month long blogging sabbatical. I’m beta testing a blogger rehab program with her.

I’m working on getting ready for three conferences this year and putting together things like business cards and media kits.

I am working on A Cookie Before Dinner’s long term vision.

I am working on not comparing my journey with anyone else’s.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

For a long time, I’ve considered myself a lifestyle blogger with a momblog influence. But recently, I read this post that Julie from Fabulous Blogging wrote. In it, she outlines several different kinds of blog types. After reading it, I realized that I’m not exactly the kind of blogger I thought I was. I am an inspirational blogger who wants to develop more practical content.

If you combined my inspirational content with Beth’s from Structure In An Unstructured Life’s practical content, that is where A Cookie Before Dinner is heading.

Why do I write what I do?

My hope is that this blog inspires the reader to chase a sweet life well lived. My goals for my readers is that they walk away from reading A Cookie Before Dinner feeling encouraged, laughing, or with something useful that will make their lives a little better.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, and I’m so thankful I have this space to call home.

Writing is a way my soul can breathe.
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I want to leave my heart on paper for my children. And I want women to know they are not alone in their life journey.

How does my writing process work?

As a stay at home mom with two little ones, I do not have the luxury to sit down and write in peace. In an ideal world, I’d be able to close the door to an office and be alone with my thoughts. But at this time, my season of life and our home don’t afford that.

The room that I use to write in is mullet style. Business in the front, with my desk, and party in the back, with Malone’s toys. It opens up with French doors into our living room.

I typically use Lola’s morning nap as writing time. Malone knows that when Lola goes down for her nap, he’s going to (FINALLY!) get to watch a bit of TV. In the afternoons, while Malone is at preschool, I use naptime for administrative tasks like creative graphics, editing photos, email, or checking social media. After the kids are in bed, I either brainstorm new post ideas or read and comment on other blogs.

This is a new time strategy for me. In the past I would bop from task to task without a real focus. And then I’d wonder why it felt like I couldn’t ever get anything done.

I keep a loose editorial calendar on pen and paper. I often have more ideas than I have time to execute well. But I’m learning that the most important thing to do is to keep on showing up to the computer to write.

I’ve spent a lot of time digging in to Kat Lee’s Blog Planning Kit. It is the best $15.00 that I’ve invested in my blog. It is an amazing resource that has helped me narrow down my focus. It is a lot of goal setting but long term and short term. I’ve got my five year goals for this space mapped out. It’s crazy to think about, but they are on pen and paper. Every post I write and thing I do points back to my five year plan.

I will be writing about the blog planning kit more in depth on Wednesday so come back!

I am thrilled to be passing this tour stop on to two great bloggers, Allison of Go Dansker Mom and Beth from Structure In An Unstructured Life. These women are two of my favorites. Beth is my blogging kindred. I think that if we teamed up, we could rule the world. And when I read Allison’s blog, I often feel as though I could have written the EXACT same thing. Check out their blogs next Monday, April 26 as they take you behind the scenes of their writing process!




  1. 1

    Tara Newman says

    I wrote a post today on blogging, not necessarily my writing style but I cover a couple of things you mention here! I love the not being a coma abuser. Gosh, I love the comma. I have been trying to use a period instead.
    Tara Newman recently posted..Behind the Blog: Our Purpose, Content, What’s New, and Social MediaMy Profile

    • 2

      NJ says

      I loved reading your post this morning Tara! I have a feeling that we’re really kindreds and I’m so glad that we’re sharing (hopefully) a room together at Blog U! I am such a comma abuser, for real. I have to reread my posts all the time to make sure that I’m not abusing them!

  2. 3

    Nancy says

    Thanks for participating and passing it on! I also was surprised that I had so much to say, when the questions seemed so simple.
    I have the same issue of trying to do a bunch of things at once, online so I need to follow suit and create blocks of time for certain activities.
    Nancy recently posted..My Writing ProcessMy Profile

    • 4

      NJ says

      Using creative blocks has really helped me. In fact just before I started to reply to your comment, I closed out all of my browsers and just opened one. I am learning that the more focused I can be, there more efficient I can be with my writing.

  3. 5

    Katie @ Pick Any two says

    I appreciate the fact that you’re being so intentional about the vision and direction for your blog. That is always a good thing.
    Katie @ Pick Any two recently posted..Things New Moms Are Supposed to Just Know…That I Didn’t!My Profile

    • 6

      NJ says

      Thanks Katie! My word of the year for 2014 is intentional. It is really living and breathing in this space. There are days when my dreams seem so far away, but if I look at my time table of goals it feels a little more reachable.

  4. 7

    thedoseofreality says

    Excellent post NJ. We have changed the way we blog this year, too (do I sense a theme here?), and it has been very freeing. I had never thought about drafting in Word before, but that makes so much sense. I, too, get easily distracted online (all of the open tabs right now would show that if you could see my computer). I am definitely going to try that!-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Would You Rather: Have $10,000 For A Home Renovation Or For A Fabulous Vacation?My Profile

    • 8

      NJ says

      Drafting in Word is the best idea I’ve had in a long time. Even if my blog up and gets eaten by my server, my words will still always be on my hard drive.

      I have a two tab limit when I’m online. I often fail miserably, but I try to keep it small!

  5. 9

    Julie DeNeen says

    I love it when bloggers let us in on their writing process. Thanks for the mention!!
    Julie DeNeen recently posted..Saved on Easter SundayMy Profile

  6. 11

    Dana says

    I’m intrigued, NJ. You’ve clearly spent time thinking and planning your blog and its future, and I’d love to follow your lead. And I’ll be reading regardless of how often you post!
    Dana recently posted..Should I keep blogging?My Profile

    • 12

      NJ says

      I sometimes feel like I spend more time on the behind the scenes stuff than I do writing. I love planning the future of this space!

      I’ll help you in anyway I can. I don’t know a ton, but what I do know might help you!

  7. 13

    Lisa @ The Golden spoons says

    I love reading all of these! So interesting to see how everyone is similar and different. I love that you draft in Word. I have done that occasionally, but not often. I, too, get distracted by all the things when I’m online. I love that you have such a long term plan for your blog. I am currently re-adjusting my short term focus, and, honestly, haven’t really thought that much about 5 years form now. I probably should. Thanks for sharing!
    Lisa @ The Golden spoons recently posted..Happy Easter Bloggy VacayMy Profile

  8. 14

    Rabia @TheLiebers says

    You are so intentional in other aspects of your life, NJ, that I am not surprised that it carries over to your blog. That’s something I don’t always feel up to speed with: intentionality. I am greatly in need of more focus in lots of areas of my life.
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted..#TuesdayTen: My Favorite CandiesMy Profile

  9. 15

    lisacng @ says

    It was so great getting to know you through this post. I can see that you have and want to keep defining your vision for this blog. It’s so great to be along for the journey!
    lisacng @ recently posted..Weekend photos: eggs, flowers, hairs cutMy Profile

  10. 16

    Stephanie says

    I had to tweet the comma abuser statement – because that is totally what I do. I’ve been trying to end my sentences instead of carrying them on and on but I do love the commas. Thanks for the tips on Julie’s post and the blog planner, I put together one for this year but I’m barely using it – it’s day to day vs. big plan so it’s not clicking. I like the idea of focusing and working to that end goal.
    Stephanie recently posted..No Mother is PerfectMy Profile

  11. 17

    Beth at Structure in an Unstructured Life says

    Loved this peek inside your writing world, NJ! And I read and reread your first question and answer several times. I loved that it was about life and writing, and was so beautifully written.

    Thanks for the tag – can’t wait to post all my answers! And world domination? I am so in!! ;)
    Beth at Structure in an Unstructured Life recently posted..Tunesday Tuesday: Spiritual SongMy Profile

  12. 18

    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says

    I really enjoyed reading about your process! Someone just tagged me with this meme, so I guess I’ll be writing about mine soon, too. I am still trying to figure out what kind of blog I have! I will definitely check out that link you mentioned that changed your thinking about that.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..Our next adventure beginsMy Profile

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