It usually begins with reading. Lately, I've been reading and writing about local history and issues because I want to help raise awareness about things that people might not know about, regarding my hometown of Fullerton, and Orange County in general.
So it begins with reading, usually academic books and articles that probably not many people have read. I prefer academic books and articles because they are well-researched and they often challenge popular opinions or understandings.
So I read these academic sources, pen in hand, underlining, making notes, marking passages I will probably use in my writing. After reading, I take a break, take a walk, get a coffee, and let the ideas percolate in my mind.
Then I start writing, by hand, in my notebook, with my sources beside me. With this first draft, I just let my ideas flow, trying to communicate in straightforward language what I've read and why it matters. Sometimes I'll make connections between different things I've read. The more you read, the more connections you can make.
When I'm finished with this hand-written rough draft, I take another break, take a walk, take a nap, play the guitar, watch an episode of The X-Files, ride my bike. Again, I'm letting the ideas percolate.
Then I'll start typing my rough draft onto my laptop. Sometimes, I'll make very few changes between the rough draft and the final draft. Other times, I'll make major changes, adding more information or explanation, cutting out needless, repetitive, or boring parts.
After I've finished typing, I'll read it over a couple times, checking for minor errors, replacing words with more precise words, making sure it's tip-top. Then I'll post it on my blog! Viola!