Locked in a small room with plenty of time on my sleeves to do nothing else but read and once in a time read, I was thinking that maybe, besides the regular book reviews and features, it is about time to write a little bit also about my writing process, particularly about how I am preparing my blog posts.
An academic by background, I´ve spent most of my life in the company of books. Any kind of books and writing word in general. I devoured incessantly both fiction and non-fiction, in several languages. Books and reading habits were my companions and it´s no chance that this will ever change. With the exception of vampire-related topics - de gustibus, after all - I am reading almost everything and I am happy to relate to everything regarding books. This includes not only proper book reviews, but also featuring interesting edition houses, editorial ideas, interviews with authors, bookstore reviews and bookish guides, visits at authors´ memorial houses, any other relevant details about the publishing industry and the book production in general.
As in any aspect related to writing and published work in general, preparation of an article is essential. Either you are about to write a review or a general feature article, you have to be sure that first and foremost you know what are you talking about. You have to know the terms you are using and the context.
This may involve that once you have an idea of a blog article, it will take a little bit of time until your article is ready. Although blogging is a very personal and private business in itself - and not all of us make money out of it - principles of accountability and honesty - like in the case of any published work/word in general are prevalent, and respecting them is a matter of respecting your readers, no matter there are less than five or so. Those people who are about to read your posts deserve to be offered something fresh, interesting and reliable.
Once you are aware about the mindset, I will proceed to the next and most important step of the process. The preparation of your article. For now, I will use a very simple example: a book review.
Before you are writing about a book, you need to read it. Everyone his or her own pace and although one might be tempted somehow to read fast and produce as many articles as possible - at least at the beginning when you want to reach in a short amount of time a certain notoriety, I would rather prefer the slow/medium-paced mindset. Especially when you are at the beginning of your bookish blogging life, you better start by offering high-end information and articles, instead of hasty bits that might look not only in search engines, but also among your potential readers. A tree doesn´t grow overnight and it always take time - between 6 months and one year at least - until you can count on a steady audience. Therefore, enjoy the book you are about to read, page by page. After all, everyhing nhas to do with your love for books, not with a factory-style production of afrticles, isn´t it?
Every time I am reading a book I intend to review, I am having on my side a notebook and a pen. This is how I am used to read and although I can easily use a computer or other kind of electronic devices for the same purpose, I still prefer the old style of hand writing. In my case, it helps to keep my attention awake and better organise my thoughts later - obviously, if your handwriting is organised well enough...
On those notes I add a variety of details: observations about the characters, observations about the writing, quotes to use later in the review, inadvertencies, personal thoughts about various chapters. Practically, everything that has to do with the book itself. Those notes represent the main ´flesh´ of the article I will publish later and I completely depend on the information for writing my review.
Besides, there is more documentation involved before I am about to write my article.
My bookish blog is covering a wide range of authors, with the aim of no leaving behind any single country. I am a traveler as well, considering literature as part of a conundrum which reveals the uniqueness of cultures and civilizations. Therefore, especially when I am about to cover relatively ´unknown´ authors and cultures, I take more time to read information regarding specific contexts, customs, histories.
For the books in translation, I am always interested to find out more about the translator.
I am also interested to find out more information about the author and his or her special history, but also about the context of the book as well - controversies, reception, awards. Once in a while, I might be interested in reading interviews with the author, reviews published in big publications, opinions already expressed by other bloggers.
All those additional information help to create a better perspective on the book and add more depth to the review as such.
As you can see, writing a book review is not easy business and it involves a significant amount of time. From the moment you start reading until the review is published on the blog it can take from a couple of days and a week.
In my case, the pace may differ. Giving the fact that right now, there is no family and professional pressure hanging over my head, I have plenty of time to read, take my notes, add the documentation and proceed further with the review. In a normal context (but what is normality nowadays, anyway), I need around 2-3 days until the review is ready. In some cases - especially very complex books - I have to take a break from the topic or the author in order to clarify my thoughts and the timing might take place within a week or even more.
But after all, what matters, is to offer to your reader a piece of your bookish heart. Do it in your own pace, enjoying during the process, while learning something new.
Are you a beginner bookish blogger and looking for some advice at the beginning of the journey? Feel free to get in touch for a short introduction into the topic! Looking forward to get in touch soon!