Every writer has his or her own writing process. I have mine and you have yours – no two are the same. Often, the process comes naturally and is not a step-by-step guide to which writers refer. And eventually, after many trials and errors, that process becomes your own writing routine made to fit in your personal lifestyle.
I discovered my own from reading and listening to authors talking about parts of their writing process. Many times, the thought of “I cannot write like that!” came to my mind. Other times I may think, “Oh that’s a great idea! Let me give that a try.” Therefore, I tried.
It may work, and it may not. However, we are changing and growing beings, and I believe it’s wise to try new things outside of our comfort zone. On second thought, don’t try. Instead, really start doing. Do your best to get outside of your bubble.
Not Everything Will Work
Everything that I do won’t work for you, and that’s okay. It’s good to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you and to stay true to your creative self.
I hope this post will bring comfort to those of you who share a similar process, and motivation to try something new to those of you who don’t. At the core, being aware of your own writing process is helpful when you find yourself struggling with a particularly tricky piece.
So, here are five guidelines I use when I write, which may help you towards creating or identifying your personal writing process:
You’re ready to start. Yes, you are! So, why have you been staring at that blank page for the past hour?
The idea of prewriting is to identify everything, or at least most of the things, you need to do before you start on your rough draft. There are three keywords that help to identify what you need: “Find, Build, and Plan.”
- Find your idea: Ideas and inspirations are all around you. It can be drawn from your everyday situation, conversation, routine, and good or bad memories. Be as open-minded as you possibly can. Do your research if needed and keep a notebook with you specifically devoted to writing down your ideas as they come to you. Your own imagination is the only limit to finding your source of inspiration.
- Build on your idea: There are two popular methods to work out your idea, which are freewriting and brainstorming. Freewriting means writing every idea that you have on your mind unto (digital) paper. Just let the ideas flow and do not stop to edit your mistakes. Or, try brainstorming. If you’re on a computer, try to visualise your narrative: write your idea in the centre of the page and work outwards in all of the different directions you can take your story.
- Plan and structure: Bringing your idea together comes next. It’s time to choose which ones you will use to form your story. Make sure you keep your notes even after your work is published. Whatever there may be in your notes, there may be the seeds for your next story as well.
Tip: Once you have an idea, don’t make the mistake of jumping straight into your writing because you’ll end up with a badly structured piece. Instead, expand on it and see the bigger picture of how your story unfolds.
Now you have your plan and you’re ready to start writing.
Remember, this is your first rough draft. Forget about word count and grammar. Don’t worry if you stray off topic. Even the greatest writers produce multiple drafts before they produce their finished work.
This stage is basically a free writing exercise. Identify the best time and location to write and get rid of obvious distractions. Make writing a regular part of your day.
Tip: Writing requires concentration and energy. If you’re new to writing, don’t try to write for hours without stopping. Instead, give yourself short breaks of 30 minutes relax and refocus. Try not to check your emails in the meantime.
During this stage, your story can change a great deal.
At this stage, the focus is still on the content itself and not grammar or spelling. When revising your work, adopt the A.R.R.R. approach:
- Add: Does your work have enough words to be considered a blog, article, novel, or e-book? Have you given all the information that your readers need to make sense out of your story? If not, go back to your notebook that you kept for additional topics and details.
- Rearrange: Think critically about the flow, pace and sequence of your story. Would the story improve if some of the events occur in a different order?
- Remove: After making additions and rearrangements to your story, how much is your word count now? Are you overloading your readers with too much information? Maybe you can send your message across with fewer words? You may need to eliminate paragraphs that don’t quite fit.
- Replace: Do you need more details to help clarify your work? Is one paragraph contradicting another? The most effective way to review your work is to ask for a second opinion from one or multiple proof-readers. Ask friends or fellow writers to proof-read and give you feedback. If something isn’t working, rewrite it and replace it.
Tip: If you’re not sure what works and what isn’t, show your writing to someone else. Ask a friend or family member for feedback. Getting feedback from several people will be the best, so that you can get more than one opinion.
You’re done revising your story.
Now, it’s time to fine-tune your work line by line. Check for repetition, clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Editing is an extremely detailed process and it’s best when performed by a professional. It’s unappealing to read content that is full of errors. Here are some things to check for:
- Using the same word too many times in one sentence or paragraph;
- Sentences that are hard to understand;
- Words you could cut to make a sentence stronger;
- Grammatically correct sentences;
- Everything spelt correctly;
- And Using punctuation marks correctly.
Tip: Print out your work and check for errors on paper. Many writers or proof-readers find it easier to spot them this way.
The final step is publishing. Of course, This means different things depending on the piece you’re working on. Feel free to bookmark this post so that you can come back to it each time you start on a new article, blog post, essay or story.
Tip: Your work might not receive the results you’re hoping for, but that’s okay. Everything that you write is not wasted, because it all contributes to your growth as a writer.
Originally published at ye-chen.com.
I will soon create a detailed checklist for you to download for your own convenience. Sign up to my Weekly Newsletter to receive an email with the link to download it when finished.
- How does your writing process look like?
- Do you have anything to add?
- Do you have any tips for me?
Have your say in the comment section 🙂
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