NAMES: Zach Patton and Clay Dunn
YEARS BLOGGING: 7
GENRE: Food writing
FEATURED: NPR, PBS, The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine
How do you balance a regular blog with full-time careers (Zach as a journalist, Clay working for the nonprofit No Kid Hungry)?
For us, blogging is a hobby and a passion project. We both enjoy really busy careers, but we still love to cook, and usually prefer to eat at home. We balance work and the blog by using the cooking we do for the blog as a reason to have friends over for dinner. And when we cook for the blog, we typically make a handful of dishes at once, which gives us content to share on the blog for the next week or two. It takes a little more advanced planning, but it’s really worth it.
The Bitten Word is unique in that it’s co-written by two authors. How does your writing partnership work?
When we started the blog, we experimented with voice. Back then, sometimes we signed the posts to let people know who wrote what. But pretty quickly, we fell into a style of writing that fits both of our styles.
We’re now in our seventh year, and we split the writing equally. For each post, one of us authors it and the other edits. We never take each others’ feedback personally. Sometimes if one of us is editing, he’ll do a rewrite in the process, and that’s A-OK.
In the end, our “goal” is to make it difficult to pick out who wrote what – sometimes we even have trouble remembering when we look back at older content. We do have a few guiding principles: We try to keep the voice of our blog conversational, upbeat, never overly serious. (This is food we’re talking about, not nuclear physics.) And we always recognize that in the end, we are – very enthusiastic – amateurs, along for the ride with all of our readers.
How has writing regularly for The Bitten Word made you better writers?
We believe you become a better writer only by writing more. The kind of writing we do on the blog is often a challenge, because we don’t want to just quickly tell readers about a recipe. We want to frame it with a story, share something of ourselves, and when you’re writing about roast chicken for the 12th time, that can be a creative challenge.
—Nicki Porter served as the editor of The Writer from 2016 to 2022; she previously served as its associate editor. Before helming The Writer, she worked as a food editor for Madavor Media and America’s Test Kitchen. She’s also written for a number of publications and spoken at writing conferences across the country. Learn more at nickiporter.com.
To read the full interview with Zach and Clay, click here.