Writing is more than just tapping words onto the page. There are several steps to writing: thinking, planning, researching, drafting and reviewing. What’s more, often all the stages in the writing process have to happen before a deadline. There can be a lot to do in a limited amount of time.
In this blog we shall look at each of these steps in turn.
First we need to reflect on the purpose of our writing. Why are we writing this? What are the main ideas? Who will the audience be? What will they already know about this topic? If the writing is to be published, where will it appear? The answers to these questions will all have a bearing on the content of the writing and its style and format.
We may not be Shakespeare or John Grisham; we may be writing a factual account. Nevertheless, how we present our writing involves imagination and creativity. Choices about style and format are creative ones.
The writing process itself needs to be planned. How will you source and collect your materials? How will you organize your materials and notes? How you will organize your time? This is most important! You may have written some pretty slick material on the train to Machu Picchu, or when you were up against an impossibly tight deadline, but the chances are that you will successfully complete your project if you schedule substantial periods of time with a goal for each one, and stick to this! Writing a substantial piece requires self-discipline. The saying goes that we all have a book inside us. What’s often different about those that actually write one is their discipline and determination.
Then you need to develop a plan for the actual content. You have gotten your main ideas, so how are you going to organize them? How should they be sequenced to best effect? Is the whole piece coherent? Does it flow? Does the conclusion introduce a new aspect that will help to sustain interest?
Then, how to obtain the evidence or material that will make your work convincing or make it seem authentic? There are many resources available to writers. The internet, particularly sites such as Wikipedia, but also special-interest blogs and websites, are some of the more obvious ones.
How you handle your researched material is a matter of and judgment and skill. For instance, if you have been reading up on mediaeval nuns, it’s no use including multiple pages on prayers and monasteries if you want to make a convincing argument or keep your narrative engaging and well-paced.
Now we’re getting down to the actual writing. Not to worry if at first you can’t think in grammatical sentences or if you don’t have the precise vocabulary. Take each of your ideas and start building it up. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, if needs be.
Conventional wisdom says that fiction writers should start with an outline of their plot, but sometimes the narrative comes to life with a particular character.
Be spontaneous. This is where the discipline of your schedule is important. Use each writing session to “get it all down.” You can, and you should, come back and review your work later.
Reviewing, editing and proofreading are essential to the writing process. After a lapse of a day or a week reviewing what you have written with fresh eyes will help you to spot mistakes, appraise your work and find ways to improve it.
If you intend to publish, at the very least you will want to ensure that your writing has no spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors and that is has been properly formatted. Therefore all work intended for publication should be thoroughly proofread.
The professional editors at First Editing.com would be delighted to help out by ensuring that your work reaches the best possible standard.