Every writer follows his or her own writing process. Often the process is a routine that comes naturally and is not a step-by-step guide to which writers refer. Being conscious of your own writing process is especially helpful when you find yourself struggling with a particularly tricky piece. Here are five steps towards creating or identifying your personal writing process.
You’re ready to start writing. So why has that blank page been staring back at you for the past hour? Prewriting identifies everything you need to do before you sit down to start your rough draft.
Find Your Idea
Ideas are all around you. You might draw inspiration from a routine, an everyday situation or a childhood memory. Alternatively, keep a notebook specifically devoted to catching your ideas as they come to you. Your own imagination is the only limit to finding your source of inspiration.
Build On Your Idea
Two of the most popular methods of fleshing out your idea are free writing and brainstorming. Free writing means writing every idea that comes into your head. Do not stop to edit your mistakes, just let the ideas flow. Or, try brainstorming. If you’re on a computer, try a manual process first to help you visualize your narrative: write your idea in the center of the page and work outwards in all of the different directions you can take your story.
Plan and Structure
Piecing the puzzle together comes next. It’s time to sort through your ideas and choose which ones you will use to form your story. Make sure you keep your notes even after your book is published – there may be the seeds for your next story as well.
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 in places; even the greatest writers produce multiple drafts before they produce their finished manuscript. Think of this stage as a free writing exercise, just with more direction. Identify the best time and location to write and eliminate potential distractions. Make writing a regular part of your day.
Your story can change a great deal during this stage. When revising their work, many writers naturally adopt the A.R.R.R. approach:
- Add: The average novel has between 60,000 and 100,000 words. Does your book have enough words to be considered a novel? Have you given your readers all the information they need to make sense of your story? If not, go back to your notebook that you kept for additional scenes and any additional details.
- Rearrange: Consider the flow, pacing and sequencing of your story. Would the plot be better served if some of the events occur in a different order?
- Remove: After making additions to your story, how is your word count now? Are your readers experiencing information overload? You may need to eliminate passages that don’t quite fit.
- Replace: The most effective way to revise your work is to ask for a second opinion. Do you need more vivid details to help clarify your work? Is one scene contradicting another? Ask friends or fellow writers to take a look and give you feedback, and if something isn’t working rewrite it and replace it.
You have overhauled your story. It’s time to fine tune your manuscript line by line. Check for repetition, clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Editing is an extremely detailed process and its best when performed by a professional. You can hire your own editor or utilized the editing services available through Publishing. Nobody wants to read a book that is full of mistakes, and they certainly won’t buy a book that is riddled with them.