Writing is a process meant to be enjoyed. There is something freeing about having time for getting one’s thoughts on paper before having to revise and edit. In other words, it doesn’t have to come out perfect in one sitting. With this freedom, I find that most writers are more creatively daring than they might be otherwise. When I work with reluctant writers, I often see a look of relief when I say, “In the rough draft, spelling doesn’t count. Just get your thoughts on paper and enjoy the process.”
The following are recommended steps of the writing process.
- Prewriting: There are dozens of ways to generate and organize writing ideas. Some of my favorites are brainstorming with others, word clusters and meditation.
- Drafting: Get all your thoughts on paper as quickly as possible without editing.
- Revising: Reread your work (preferably aloud) to see if your words are conveyed with clarity and without needless repetition.
- Editing: Now is the time to look for misspelled words and grammatical errors.
- Publishing: Some ways to be published are hiring an agent, submitting to publishers and self-publishing.
First, brainstormingwith others is a good way to formulate your initial ideas and get a sense of what you have passionate feelings about. If the energy isn’t there, keep going until you find something worthy of your writing time. If you process ideas by talking about them, this is a good technique to try.
Second, word clustering is good to access the creative right side of the brain. Begin with a nucleus word or idea circled in the middle of a page. From there, write the first thought that comes, connecting it outward with a line and draw a circle around it. Go back to the nucleus and repeat the process. Word cluster templates can be found on Google.
Finally, my favorite one is meditation: the act of quieting the mind and listening for insights and guidance from within. I suggest sitting down to meditate with the intention of writing afterwards. Set aside some quiet time to be followed by writing. You may surprise yourself—in a good way—with the results.
Step 2: Drafting. When drafting, it’s best to leave your inner critic at the door or in the waste basket. All you need to do is write your thoughts with total disregard of rules and concerns about what people will think. While drafting, you are the only thinker that matters. Too many people allow their fears and inhibitions to interfere with true creative expression.
Step 3: Revision. Now, you want your critical mind to come into play by reading to see if your words make sense. Have you conveyed the meaning clearly? Have you left out words that your mind thought you typed as your fingers flew across the keyboard? Did you show without telling? Here, you also consider if you’ve used the right form of homophones such as hear and here, your and you’re. Revision has to do with accuracy and clarity for your readers. Beta readers or first readers, usually friends who enjoy reading, are helpful at this time to get fresh views and insights of your work. Consider hiring a copy editor and/or content editor before going on to step 4. The phrase, “writing is rewriting,” is applicable here.
Step 4: Editing. Now is the time for the critical left brain to be fully engaged. Use reference books on grammar and punctuation to dispel doubts you may have about your work. Since this is the final step before publishing, you want to polish as much as possible. Once you feel there is no more you can do, you may consider hiring a line editor before publishing.
Step 5: Publishing. The world of publishing has changed quite a bit in recent years due to electronic devices and sources for reading literature. Choices for publishing depend upon your genre, budget and resources. I recommend joining writing groups online and in your community for support in making the right decision regarding ways to publish your work. Often, even with a publishing house behind you, there is still much marketing to do by the author.
Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoirs, blog articles, or technical writing, use of the writing process will help you along the path of successful creative expression. It is my hope that through use of the writing process, you write more often and enjoy it more.
Lillian Nader, M.Ed. is currently enjoying Step 2 of the writing process while drafting a YA science fiction novel. She is the published author of educational workbooks and the librettist of the musical, Pandora. Lillian is a retired teacher who does part time tutoring, freelance copy editing and beta reading at reasonable rates. She can be reached at Lnader1910@sbcglobal.net and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/Lillian.nader