I’ve been writing for over 20 years now. In that time I’ve tried many forms – sort stories, articles, blogs, a novel, fillers, poetry – you name it! Looking back over my experiences I’ve found two things: first, there’s a lot of trial and error involved in developing as a writer, and second, most forms of writing can be summarised in one succinct process.
You probably know how it feels to see time ebbing away as you try to figure out how to get a project completed. It can be so frustrating to hit a wall in your process, not knowing which way to turn next. Like any craft, writing has to be learned ‘on the job’. So, why not make that job simpler to learn by distilling and using a core creative process?
The process I have learned through experience and talking to other writers has helped me to beat most of my procrastination issues. It helps me to feel more confident and prepared for my day’s work. I save time, energy and worry. This allows me to devote more energy to writing, and spend more time with my loved ones.
Using this process, you should find that your writing starts to come more easily and your ideas and thoughts more organised.
How to Craft Any Piece of Writing — FAST!
1. Develop your idea – If you have one or many ideas, the key thing to do is write them down. Keep a small notepad with you at all times. Then, when you have some time, start to explore your idea.
You need to decide which ideas ‘have legs’. You need to think about whether they’re suitable for your market, do they have emotional appeal, how do you feel about it (this is a good clue for deciding if others will feel the same) and what benefits it can offer. If your idea looks like it has potential, start planning.
2. Plan your piece – Whether it’s a long novel or a short article for a magazine, it pays to plan your work. Far from reducing your creativity, planning helps give a framework through which your creativity can flow.
I look at it like building an aqueduct to channel water to where it’s needed. Your planning will involve creating an outline, deciding what you want to say, and exploring matters such as theme, and in fiction, character and setting.
3. The first draft – First drafts can seem daunting. You want to write well, yet you know that the draft will not be the finished piece.
Remember not to have unrealistic expectations. Your task here is to get your words out on paper, sentence by sentence, by paragraph, by page. It’s easy to get put off during your first draft so start out with some strategies to keep your motivation going until you reach the end.
FYI, I ran across this post on how to stay motivated as a writer. I love #5. It’s about how one writer uses Twitter to stay on track. The poster writes:
Don’t dismiss Twitter as a waste of time waster or, at best, a simple networking tool. I’ve found it a powerful way to motivate myself and other people. It surprised me too but here’s how it happened. I followed a well known novelist and journalist called John Birmingham@johnbirmingham on Twitter. I noticed that he constantly tweeted how many words he’d written on a project and how many he was about to write. He’s prolific and his word count put me to shame so I decided to try his tactic and see if it helped me.
When used this way, social media doesn’t have to be a time suck!
4. Re-drafting – Before you begin to re-draft your work, rest it for a while. How long should depend on the length of the piece and your deadline. Whilst you’re resting the work, find something else to concentrate on, clear your mind of it for a while.
When you come back to it, try to look at it more objectively than you did in the first draft. At this stage, you are making the more major changes – maybe moving paragraphs, changing the order of chapters, introducing addition information etc. Bear in mind that this is a craft and you are now shaping your piece and giving it definition
5. Editing & proofreading – Now that you’ve reached the final stage, it may be tempting to take things a little easier. Don’t! Polished work requires nit-picky editing. Concentrate on grammar, flow, meaning, repetition and typos as the main issues to sort out here.
Go back to your initial idea and ask yourself if the piece conveys your original message. If it doesn’t, make sure it’s for a good reason that enhances the piece not detracts from its value.
That’s the basic process I go through each time I create a piece of work. It may sound like a lot of work to you. Maybe you prefer to write just the one draft, but I assure you, all these stages are necessary to complete a quality piece of writing.
Some people believe that you only need all these stages for longer work, like a novel. After all, a short piece is just an idea, right? Wrong! All pieces, if you look at them closely, have a structure and beauty to them. The work of this process includes bringing out the beauty in your work and showcasing your talent.
I hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on this journey through the writing process.
P.S.: Learn How to Write Fast — and Watch Your Income Soar!
I’ve written and self-published over 50 ebooks. Since 2010, this revenue stream has accounted for over half my annual income.
In this ebook pullout, I divulge how I write so many ebooks. FYI, I spent the whole year in 2011 self-publishing and uploading some 50 titles to Amazon. While that’s a bit extreme, it proves that you can self-publish a lot of titles if you’re willing to work hard (and it is hard work — don’t let anyone tell you any differently).