I’ve been writing long enough so I don’t think much about how I actually get something written. The first image in my mind was mostly me sitting in front of a computer, fingers tapping away on the keyboard.
My conversation partner wasn’t happy with that description. “But what actually goes on in your mind?”
We talked some more and it turned out he wanted to compare this writing process with mine. He thought perhaps he could improve his.
At his prodding I came up with a list that demonstrates my writing process.
Thinking about the piece I’m going to write
For me this is an informal part of my writing process. Using this article as an example, a month about I wrote the writing process on a list of ideas I keep for this blog. This morning I decided I wanted to write about this today. I started with the title and then did the dishes while I noodled the idea around in my mind.
This example was pretty simple – I didn’t make any notes until I got to the computer. Contrast this with an idea about a followup article over on Edenkeeper.org. It’s more complicated and less familiar to me, so I’ve actually been jotting down a few notes.
Picturing the ideal reader
I know from long experience that if I don’t have an ideal reader in mind the piece starts to drift and become unclear. Someone said, “if you write for everyone you write for no one.” I find this to be right on. When I know who I’m writing for it’s always easier to actually get words on the page.
Generally, I combine this with thinking about the piece. Sometimes I have to remember to ask myself who I’m writing for.
Here, my ideal reader is someone much like me, but younger. I also often reach back in my memory of when I started writing or had only been writing for a few years, and work to aim it at that writer.
Creating the rough draft comes next. This is where I essentially dump all my ideas down in one place. Often I do this by actually starting the piece; sometimes it’s just a list of notes. This draft began with the list, Thinking…, Picturing… etc.
While drafting I’m not too concerned about the quality of the writing. Yes, I do work at writing clean copy the first time I write, but I don’t demand that of myself – once in a while it happens, mostly I move on to the next step. If, on the other hand, I get caught in trying to make the piece perfect at this stage, I only delay myself, sometimes seriously.
Rewriting or editing
Rewriting or editing is just that. I go back through the draft making correction, additions, subtractions, rearrangements – doing the work that makes the piece truly readable. This usually takes more time than the the rough draft, sometimes lots more time.
Proofing or copy editing
Proofreading or copy editing is next. The goal is to go through what you’ve written, finding any mistakes, lack of clarity and simple typos. Sometimes I pay a professional to proof for me. If you’re going to do that you want to be clear on the different types of editing.
Publish, submit, or market
If you’ve read my free ebook, The 3 Keys to Making Your Writing Pay! you know that I consider marketing the third key to success. Sometimes that means publishing on your own blog. Others it means submitting to a magazine or editor. These are both part of marketing and ideally you’ll have sold what you’ve written even before you started writing.
Now you know my writing process. How does it compare with yours? Tell us in comments.
Write well and often,