My Writing Process

Posted on: July 21st, 2014 by

I am pleased to participate in the blog tour that highlights each participating blogger’s writing process. I hope this post helps readers better understand mine. I was invited to this tour by the wonderful Jennifer Campisano of the excellent blog Booby and the Beast.

As part of this blog tour, I answered the following four questions about my writing process.

What am I currently working on?

I am working on many writing projects at once. Besides blogging, I have completed a manuscript titled Calling the Shots: Navigating Your Way Through the Medical System. The book describes how patients can advocate for themselves through today’s often-frustrating, often-difficult medical landscape.

I got the idea for my book when I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I encountered hostile doctors and rude receptionists, as well as kind, wonderful medical personnel. I learned the difference between poor and superb doctors, staff, and so on, and I felt I could have really used such a book when I was going through all of this medical crap.

My goal with this book is to help others. While I use my breast cancer experience as personal examples, the book is focused on helping anyone who finds themselves at the patient end of things.

The manuscript is publisher-ready, and I am choosing to attract an agent.

Interestingly, writing the proposal for an agent has been much more difficult than writing the book. But I wouldn’t change a thing because I learned a lot through the process. My proposal has been rejected by many, but one agent nibbled before she said “no,” and another simply LOVED the concept and the writing! Unfortunately, the latter had too much on her plate to take my project on.

Rather than be discouraged, I am now even more confident because an agent thought so highly of my work. Rejections don’t bother me; I don’t take them personally, and if an agent has advice on how to improve my proposal or my book, I will take it.

Besides Calling the Shots, I’m starting to work on a memoir, which will include my breast cancer story, but will not focus on it. I think it will focus on the theme of identity.

I have the poems for a collection of breast cancer poetry I want to publish someday.

And I think I have a novel in me. Maybe.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think this is the most difficult question to answer because there are so many wonderful, authentic writers in the blogosphere, and each one of us adds to the fabric of health-related narratives.

What makes my work unique is my use of various narrative techniques to tell my own truth. I enjoy experimenting with short story formats to tell a true story. For example, I sometimes use the present tense to make readers feel they are experiencing a scenario I experienced at a particular moment. Other times I might begin a post with actual dialogue so as to “hook” readers in. I’m also an artist and once in awhile provide artwork to complement the narrative.

Why do I write what I write?

I blog to develop a sense of community, to be heard, and to help others know they are not alone. When I was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatments, I felt isolated and unheard. There were support groups, but they didn’t help me. I wish social media had been around then. Writing about my cancer experience is cathartic because I am able to process it and express myself freely and authentically. I am grateful to be in a community of like-minded individuals who may have differing opinions but who are part of a community that fosters mutual respect.

That being said, I want to write about topics other than breast cancer and even medical issues in general. The truth is, I love writing. About. Anything.

How does my writing process work?

I am never short of ideas, but I am often short of time. Motherhood and a career often interfere with my attempts at writing and my focus. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yet, at the same time, I’ve realized that writing is a choice and commitment I must make every single day. For the next year I am committing to making writing a daily habit. I have fulfilled that commitment today; as I write this, it is 2:20 a.m. and my daughter is fast asleep.

In my blog, I often use writing to process trauma. I find it so very difficult to write while I’m in the middle of distressing times. I admire writers who can write while they find themselves in the midst of chaos. I need a bit of physical and emotional distance before I can write about it.

Now about the craft of writing. Generally, I love, love, love revision. Revision is more fun for me than creation because with revision, I already have something to work with. I aim for concise, effective writing. My blog posts take less revision than, for example, my book proposal, but I enjoy the process of making all of my work the best it can be.

For me, technology has a direct impact on my writing process. I use my laptop; I use long-hand only when I journal. I think better when my fingers are on the keyboard. I use Evernote to help me keep track of writing topics. I use Word when drafting, but I’m considering using the Scrivener program for my memoir. Scrivener is designed for writers and can put material in manuscript format. I’ve been tinkering around with it during my 30-day free trial and like it for organizing thoughts. If I decide to use this program, I’m sure my writing process will change, and this scares me a bit.


I don’t believe one has to be inspired to write; for me, it’s the other way around — I write to be inspired.

One person who inspires me and who will be taking the baton in next week’s blog tour on July 28 is the terrific, inspiring blogger AnneMarie Ciccarella, at Chemobrain ….. In The Fog. Besides sharing her experience with chemobrain, she is a tireless advocate, fearless friend, and engaging writer. She takes a firm stance in advocacy and patient empowerment. AnneMarie speaks out about metastatic breast cancer, and I’m sure readers (me included) would want to know more about her writing process. If you are not yet familiar with her blog, please check it out.

Do you enjoy writing? Why or why not?

If you write, what is your writing process like? I would love to know.

If you are an artist of any kind, what is your creative process like?

Please feel free to leave a link to a blog posting. I will certainly check it out.

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12 Responses to My Writing Process

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    Well, I love your writing. I will keep reading whatever you write whenever you write it.

    Thanks for sharing about your writing process. And as for me, I love to write. I have to write. And so I do. Though like you mentioned, it takes a lot of commitment and time and sometimes this is the biggest stumbling block for me too. I am grateful for every single person who takes time now and then to read something I’ve written.

    Good luck with all your writing projects and landing that agent too!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. Over the years, I have appreciated your readership and unwavering support — and, of course, your friendship.

      I also love your writing and marvel how lucky we are that we can do the thing that we love to do and what feels good to do: write!

      Yes, I hope I land an agent, too. Thank you for the good wishes.

  2. karen sutherland had this to say about that:

    dear beth,

    you have done a marvelous job with the baton you were handed to continue the blog tour. I so enjoyed getting a peak into what you have in the works and how you approach your writing. and I am here cheering you on to land the perfect agent. I have enjoyed, learned, been consoled, felt outrage on your behalf, marveled at the joys you’ve shared about your darling Ari, and felt the exhilaration and gratitude of inclusiveness in this truly beautiful blogging community. I wish you continued fulfillment in all the genres of what you are writing.

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Karen, thank you so much for your kind words. I have always appreciated your readership, and your support and cheering me on — whatever I’ve written about.

      Thank you for your continued and unwavering support. It means so very much to me, and I’m grateful to have you as a reader.

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  4. Cancer Curmudgeon had this to say about that:

    I love your writing and look forward to your books! -CC

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Cancer Curmudgeon,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing! It’s a daunting process to find a publisher, but all I can do is try. Thank you for your readership!

  5. had this to say about that:

    Congrats on completing your manuscript! Best of luck with finding the right agent and selling the book. Re Scrivener, I use it and like it, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. It’s a great tool for organization of a larger work such as a book.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Eileen,

      Thank you for your well wishes. I agree with your assessment of Scrivener. Large learning curve that I’m hoping to do a better job of tackling.

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  7. Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko) had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth – I loved your post, and learning of your writing process and work!

    Finally,I have written that post which your email and subsequent post inspired!

    Continued happy writing and thank you!

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