Some Meta About the Writing Process, Another Unboxing Video

Though I prefer not to do meta posts, indulge me for a moment as I reflect over the the writing process. Specifically to dispel one illusion that I had prior to starting Anime Instrumentality: the difficulty inherent in writing.

When I say difficulty, I really do mean it. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned writing all these music reviews, it’s that the writing process never gets easier with time; you’d think it would with 2+ years under my belt. I don’t know how some of my peers in the anime blogosphere deal with it, but I’m always in awe at the folks who can turn out a post every day and still have them be insightful and enjoyable reads. I’m not one of those people, unfortunately, and so, continue to struggle. It’s a long process, though not an unpleasant one (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it!), but I do encounter those rough patches from time to time.

Writing is ultimately a form of self-expression, but for me, it’s also a reflection of the clarity of my thinking process. And if what I’ve experienced tells me anything, it’s that my thinking process is messy. It’s not uncommon for me to write a jumble of paragraphs only to reread what I’ve written and find it nearly incomprehensible. Problems abound: repetitive phrases, utter incoherence, contradictory statements, superficial analysis, boring passages, the list goes on. I try to catch as many as I can, obviously, but I’m sure I don’t catch them all. If too many of those issues pop up though, then it’s time to head back to the drawing board so I can figure out how to refine and clarify my thoughts further or scrap it and start over if necessary. It’s important that my writing is coherent at the bare minimum even if it lacks the flourish that others possess.

So for those curious to see how messy my thinking process is, check out how my review of Makoto Shinkai’s Promise album unfolds on the TypeWith.me Time Slider. Just hit the play button to watch my thoughts evolve from a rough draft version to the final form. Do keep in mind that it’s pretty lengthy though, and you’ll only need sit through half of it to get an idea. Maybe this’ll give aspiring writers hope in the fact that even people who write extensively still have difficulties! We’ll see.

As promised in the thread title, I also perform an unboxing, this one of the Makoto Shinkai album. Though Pireze_icie at Hunting the Elusive has taken pictures of his copy, I decided to go ahead and do mine in video form. I do have a tendency to babble/ramble when I narrate, which is why this unboxing is close to 10 minutes long, but I hope you enjoy it!

I’ve also hit 250K views recently. Guess this post is an excuse to celebrate that arbitrary milestone.

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Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

12 thoughts on “Some Meta About the Writing Process, Another Unboxing Video

  • November 3, 2010 at 1:06 am
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    I always considered the difficulty of writing to come from how much the bar is raised for each piece written. One naturally gets better the more one writes, but self expectations rise at roughly the same rate, if not faster. Really, it shouldn’t bother you too much as long as you hold yourself to your standards, and I can vouch as reader that you keep very high ones :).

    And congratulations for reaching 250K.

    Reply
  • November 3, 2010 at 9:21 am
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    “nearly incomprehensible, repetitive phrases … boring passages”

    Yup… I have definitely smacked right into these problems over and over again. It is easy to put down my thoughts and feelings, but it’s the editing that really takes up a lot of time.

    And like what Elineas said, you are doing a wonderful job! so keep up the good work!

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  • November 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm
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    I feel the same way. I still struggle with each post. I find it incredible that people can turn out 600 words in 30-60 minutes for a post, while I have problems getting out 250 in 2 hours.

    Writing as reflection of clear thinking. There’s definitely a lot of truth in that. Your reviews are really insightful and spot on; it’s a testament to both your writing and analysis. ^ ^

    p.s. The type with me video thing is hecka cool!

    Reply
  • November 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm
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    Congratulations on achieving 250k!

    To make you feel better, my pacing and process at writing posts, as well as papers, are just as jumbled if not worst. I’ll write paragraphs at a time and look back at what I wrote, only to rewrite about half of the darn thing. usually the hard problem for my introduction/beginning to my post. Always, always has it been my most difficult challenge when writing. It’ll take me a while, we’re talking about hour(s), until I’m satisfied with what I wrote.

    But…

    I take a great deal of enjoyment reading your posts, as well as others on this blog. Keep up the good work and hope to read more of your work down the line. Usually you do a good job with creating interesting posts that halts my mind from wandering. 😉

    Reply
  • November 4, 2010 at 1:10 am
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    @Elineas
    The ever-increasing expectations certainly are a big part of the difficulty since there’s always the drive to do better each time as well as the constant need (at least on my end) to vary the rhythm and word choice so that it doesn’t sound all the same. It also helps to have others evaluate your own work. As these comments have shown, I’m amazingly poor when it comes to judging the quality of my work, so I’m glad my thoughts have worked for people and that they enjoy it!

    @guuzen
    All the more reason that I marvel at people who can continually pump out post after post without losing their rhythm. At the rate at which I fly, I can safely get out 1 post every three days provided that only one of them is a review.

    And thanks for your support!

    @Yi
    That post took me about 4 days of soldiering on to do though I only worked on it about 2 hours each day. Still, seeing that unfold on the Type with Me is kind of amusing on account that I can see how my thoughts morph from chaos to order. Sure is a lot of hard work though.

    Also, thanks for using “hecka” and not violating my SoCal sensibilities with the alternative, “hella” :p

    @Rhythmroo
    It’s funny. Back when I was in university, most of my history papers would consist of all the content first and only by the time I finished would I actually write the intro and the conclusion. The thesis of my papers would literally change about 3-4 times as I wrote it that writing an intro is almost pointless because I never really knew where I’d end up.

    Anyways, this blog sure isn’t going to go anywhere. I know a few people who’ll force me to eat a hat if I don’t keep this rig up :p

    Reply
  • November 4, 2010 at 5:43 am
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    I would say that frequency is a desirable, but not necessary, part of being a great writer. In my opinion, really working through your own thoughts is absolutely the most important: writing, in that sense, is not so much a reflection of the thinking process but of a condensed final version of one’s own logic. And that’s absolutely important. For example, philosophical writing is usually painfully slow, and requires significant revision of one’s own thoughts prior to actually writing. Of course, it’s different stylistically from blogging, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your time.

    There are people capable of writing frequently, quickly, and put into words easily what others struggle to express correctly. But in the end what really matters is that you communicate what you want to say, right? And I do think that you express yourself quite authoritatively and with insight in your posts. Keep it up and congrats on the 250k!

    Reply
  • November 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm
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    For someone to think (neatly?) is rare. The thinking process should be messy. Summarizing your thoughts and feelings with words comes first (gut feelings are rarely logical). Putting it all into eloquent, flowing prose comes later.

    Writing is probably the best process to help organize the mind. Most will go into composing a piece with no clearly defined thoughts. However, once everything’s been jotted down and organized, the mind knows what it thinks.

    I’m sure this blog has helped solidify your feelings towards music just as much as it has allowed readers to understand your reactions and opinions. If you’ve written a post that you feel has organized your thoughts for not only your readers, but also for yourself, then you’ve written a good post. After all, readers can’t be expected to understand your opinion if you don’t understand it yourself.

    “Writing is ultimately a form of self-expression, but for me, it’s also a reflection of the clarity of my thinking process.”

    I would say the two are closely linked. Writing is helping you clarify your self-expression. 😛

    Reply
  • November 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm
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    Congrats hitting 250k votes… Since I have blogged a whole lot for almost two years, I think blogging is fun while its time consuming. I have known since writing reviews takes hours… and of course, reading the post over again two times to get grammar errors. For me, reviews takes hours to write, editorial for two-three hours and episodic 1-2 hours…

    As for 5cm/s, I watched the movie myself back in September and it was beautiful…

    Reply
  • November 5, 2010 at 12:50 am
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    @Kylaran
    I do view frequency to be somewhat of an important trait because it does make me realize how interesting of a person I am. I think Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame said it best when he considers his work as a cartoonist as a pressure-driven job to come up with 365 ideas every year.

    Of course, that does mean I’m comparing a full-blown essay to a 4-5 panel comic strip. Heh. Interesting parallel to consider and at this point for me, I’ll immerse myself in the whole concept of “essayer” which, in French, means to attempt. So far, I think everything I’ve written have been attempts though I am pretty happy where they’ve ended up. Thanks!

    @Yu
    It is true that people really don’t know how messy their thinking process is and I’m kind of happy to see how messy mine is, which isn’t a bad thing since most of the time, I’m playing, and so, the pleasure is definitely there. Which means I’m exploring avenues and snatching words out of the air, whatever catches my fancy until I end up with something. Basically, it’s like enjoying the detours and smelling the roses at the side of the road without paying too much heed to the starting point or destination.

    Perhaps it’s the psychological factor that’s enjoyable, especially when I’m dealing with something vague and hard to put into words like music, and so, feel this urge to learn more about myself and why I think the way I think.

    Also, excellent synthesis of those ideas. I’d say you said it better than I did :p

    @chikorita157
    Hours as in real-time yes, and I don’t know if you think about how to word posts while you’re at work or during a boring segment of a class lecture or not, but if I were to add that time spent there, it’s easily another 2-3 hours on top of the time I spend writing. So yeah, a huge chunk of time… sometimes wonder where people find the time to stay on top of all those shows, go to work or go to school, cranking out a post a day, and still do a stellar effort. Guess that’s why blogging tends to run a 2-year cycle in most instances.

    Reply
  • November 13, 2010 at 7:37 pm
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    Congrats on 250k!

    I hated writing throughout school, which makes me wonder why I even started a blog. Writing for fun is different than writing for required assignments though.

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    • November 16, 2010 at 12:58 am
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      True. It’s one thing to write something that you actually give a damn about and something else entirely when you’re trying to write about some literary work from some author you don’t care about. I used to hate that stuff too and when I got a chance to write about something enjoyable, the fun starts coming right back!

      Reply
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