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What Does My Process Look Like?

Lucille, a fan of 101 Books on Facebook, recently sent me a message with this question:

“What is your process for reading books for this project? Do you highlight, make margin notes, flag pages with pretty colored stickers, dog-ear pages, summarize or outline in a journal/reading diary as you move through the chapters?”

That’s a great question, so I thought I would make a post about it.

My reading process is pretty simple. I keep a pen inside my book. When I read a passage I like, I underline it. When I have a question or a thought about something within the book, I make a note in the margin.

That’s it. I’m a simple man.

But let me tell you how I work those notes into my blog.

As I’ve mentioned before, I do work ahead a little bit. It’s simply too stressful for me to sit down the night before a post is set to go live, and try to figure out something to write about.

I’ve tried that approach before, and there’s no way I could keep a daily blog going because the constant “Oh crap! I need to come up with a post for tomorrow!” pressure would just cause me to burn out on writing.

So here’s what I do. When I mark a passage in the book, I also make a note in my blog admin about using that passage for a future post. I have a long list of potential posts to write about–everything from faint ideas to specific passages.

From there, I try to pull out about one or two passages from each book that would make for a good blog post. If it’s a much longer book, like Infinite Jest, then obviously I’ll need to highlight more than just a couple of passages.

One of the most difficult aspects of the process is trying to find something to write about when a book is just boring me to death, like A Dance To The Music Of Time for instance. I feel like I’m pulling teeth just to find something that I think will be interesting enough to make into a blog post.

Basically, I can’t stress enough how important it is for me to work ahead. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not three or four books ahead of what you see on the blog, but I’m definitely further along in the book than what you might be reading. That’s just the only way, for me, to make this happen five times a week.

So that’s it. Nothing difficult. Nothing complicated. But it definitely works for me.

If all this interests you, then you might be interested in my older post 5 Things I’ve Learned About Book Blogging.

Do you have a blogging process? If so, what’s it look like?

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. That’s the truth. Love Ian McEwan. Want to read and see The Atonement.


    September 10, 2013
  2. Cautious Reader #

    Agreed. When a book bores me to tears, I simply don’t know what to say. It is even harder to write something about it besides a clichéd “boring post.” 🙂


    September 10, 2013
    • It’s one of the more difficult types of posts I have to write.


      September 10, 2013
  3. Red #

    I like your process, it’s so brilliantly simple. I hate to write or highlight in my non-study books, so I have a habit of finding quotations and passages I like and scribbling them on the nearest piece of paper to hand, then losing them. 🙂


    September 10, 2013
    • I’ve never been one opposed to writing in books or occasionally dog-earing them.


      September 10, 2013
  4. Nice process! If it works, why complicate it?

    I’ll write 2-3 posts at a time and then schedule them to post a week or so ahead of time. That way it gives me plenty of time to edit them and make sure I still want to post them. Once in a while, I’ll decided my post should never see the light of day but that’s okay because I’ll still have a backup to post instead. 🙂


    September 10, 2013
  5. Great process. I keep a notebook with me because I am too afraid to write in the book. I use stickies sometimes, too.
    I feel ya on the posting. I try to organize, but it doesn’t always happen.

    Happy reading


    September 10, 2013
  6. Always wondered what it looked like . . great process.


    September 11, 2013
  7. Oh, I pretty much sit down at my computer and post. I have a sticky on my iMac of potential ideas, but they really just come out when the fancy strikes me. I love making notes in books, however, so it’s nice to meet someone else who does that!


    September 11, 2013

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