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It Takes Time and Cookies by Kate Pruitt-Chapin

December 2, 2013

How do I write?

Simmer + Strategize +Write + Solicit + Revise

First, I let writing ideas simmer. I contemplate the writing task. I imagine different ways of communicating my ideas, and I collect my thoughts before my fingers hit the keyboard. I think about it when I run, as I drink coffee, and when I walk through campus. It does not work for me to plan a specific time to think about a writing idea. Instead, I have to create time to do what I enjoy, and hope the writing ideas percolate.

Once my ideas take shape, I strategize. I create a road map for my writing so that I do not get lost in a writing world that is verbose and disorganized.

And, then I write.

Next, I solicit feedback. Luckily, I have a knack for befriending good writers. These trusted editors always read my most important writing assignments. I beg and barter for their time. I bake them cookies in exchange for the reminder that my sentences are too long and my dazzling ideas can be strengthened.

I revise. I take the feedback from others into consideration, and I make my own final edits. I usually do not catch my own errors until I read aloud. I invite my best audience, usually my dog, and together we attempt to catch mistakes.

This is my ideal writing process, and, as you can see, it takes time. Rarely is my last-minute work my best work. The writing I am most proud of emerges when I take time to simmer, strategize, write, solicit feedback and revise.

Kate Chapin is the former Coordinator of the Student Assault Resource Center. She currently teaches and supervises practicum students in the Social Work department.

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