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Bon Journal

The writing process

My article on climate change is published today!

From the minute I woke up this morning till now (10 pm) I've been sitting at my desk reading, writing, editing, e-mailing, and talking on the phone. It was a beautiful day which I missed because I had a deadline to meet. And now I'm going to sleep on it to give it some distance, in case I change my mind.

Some things just can't be rushed. It's like baking bread. You need to wait for the dough to rise. You can't make it rise faster. Then you have to wait for the oven to heat the dough. You can't speed up the process without compromising something else.

So I let my ideas germinate. I collect material from different people I meet and different articles I read. After a point, it becomes too much for my little head.

These modes of operation aren't easy to transition. First, there's the hunting mode. I'm hunting for good ideas. Then I gather. Finally I need to mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and let it rise. Incubation, that's what I call it. I can't jump from gathering to kneading. Similarly, I can't jump from kneading to baking.

At some point I'm ready to write the story. First I transcribe the notes from my spiral notebooks. Then I shift them around. But what spin should I weave around all this information? Which bits should I leave out?

The result needs smoothing out. I take the bread from the oven and cut off bits until it looks right. This is the editing stage.

For accuracy sake, I should go back to the experts. This is really time-consuming, for they're not always available by e-mail or phone.

After I finally submit the story, I wait for the layout. In this format, it always looks different from the plain text. So there might be more changes.

The final gratification comes when I see it in print, on paper or on the web. The finished product. Then the feedback comes. Was it as delicious for you as it was for me?

1 November 2001 Thursday

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