What is WRONG with you people?!


Every so often, someone writes a post that includes a picture of a nice tidy notebook filled with nice tidy handwriting with a few minor proofreading notes–obviously a story in progress.

Are you all insane?!

This is what a work in progress looks like in my world. I use legal pads so I can tear the pages off and stick them in a folder. I have notes and revisions and questions scribbled everywhere. This is the brainstorming part of my writing. This is what comes before the actual first draft. The pre-draft. It’s rough and awful and most of it will be tossed. I’ll eventually go through all the pages, move what I don’t want over to the left side of the folder and keep the workable stuff on the right side. The actual first draft won’t look any prettier once the rewrite starts. I look at my creative process and wonder how in the world anyone can possibly write in a notebook in which the pages are permanently bound and you can’t move ideas around.

Now, lest you overachievers think I’m disorganized, let me assure you I know where everything is. I am not suffering from a disease of the mind, regardless of what this photo may suggest. This seemingly incoherent jumble of mush will find its way onto clean paper, neatly typed and double spaced. I give you my word that a first draft will emerge from this apparent chaos, and the process will begin again. 

So, be honest. What does your work in progress really looks like? No fibbing. The BS Detector will find you out.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Crazy Crone
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 15:36:51

    I do most of my writing on the computer, then print it out and edit it. I have, at 66, actually got organised and tidy which is still a great matter of amazement to me. BUT when I was much younger, l like you, I lived in chaos. My friend walked into my study once (she who is tidy), shook her head in amazement and asked me how I knew where everything was. I was able to show her exactly what was where which she found quite unnerving!


    • MJ Belko
      Jul 27, 2014 @ 15:40:11

      I just can’t write on the computer. I guess it’s because as a medical transcriptionist, I spend so much time on the darn thing that it squashes my creativity. There’s something wonderfully organic about paper and pen. Plus, I don’t own a laptop and like to write on the porch. I would need a very long extension cord!


  2. Melanie Eden
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 16:12:31

    I used to write everything in notebooks. I had pages with what was actually working, and if I had to re-start some part of my draft, I would start a new page. I never lost anything that way, which helped because I wasn’t writing at home most of the time, and needed to be portable. It worked for me far better then the random pieces of paper system did. To this day I think I’ve lost about half of my random planing notes for a few of my ongoing projects. >.>


  3. ehbates
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 20:24:15

    The actual story part of my WIP is on the computer, but the brainstorming–it’s messy, crossed-out, written in all directions, cramped, terrible handwriting. But it’s colorful. 🙂 I have to have my multicolored pens to brainstorm, or it’s no fun.


  4. MJ Belko
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 21:52:59

    I invite everyone to join the dark side.


  5. maggiedot
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 15:48:07

    I usually type most of my stuff, but the notes and edits are usually scrawled across the backs of printouts or in a disintegrating notebook I use for plotting/brainstorming/etc.

    I’m such a notebook-aholic, though, I can’t deny wishing I could maintain one of those beautifully organized/color-coded/perfectly handwritten journals. Haha! ^_^


  6. Julie Holmes, author
    Aug 08, 2014 @ 22:31:57

    I love your pic. Looks like my writing area. I use both paper and the computer to take notes, write bits and pieces, or just hash out plot lines. I always think about being more organized, and I have two composition notebooks, partially filled, to show for a couple of the attempts. I figure, whatever’s been working up to this point, I’m just going to go with. Eventually I’ll get more organized, right?


  7. lacrow1040
    Aug 23, 2014 @ 13:24:22

    Lol! I have never taken any pics of my writing! Maybe I should try that 🙂 Although, the OCD part of me would want to clean up before I took the pic!!


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