Find a writing process that works for you
The writing world is flooded with advice and ‘rules’ covering how you should craft your words. Many of these are lectured into us at school and stifle creativity.
If like me, your bookshelves are groaning under the weight of ‘How-To Write’ books, you’ll appreciate the variety of writing advice that’s out there. The plethora is mindboggling and can make you think you’re doing something wrong or are just one ‘hack’ from success.
The reality is, there are no rules for writing, only guidance. To become a writer, you don’t need to master a rule book but rather set out on an adventure. Your quest is to explore the writing world with an open mind, experiment with guidance and uncover your own way.
What is a writing process?
Your writing process is the way you write. It covers the steps you take to write a piece from start to finish. Essentially, it’s your personal writing map.
Despite all the guidance that’s available, often written in the context of other writers’ experience, there is no single best way and, certainly, no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Use guidance as inspiration. Don’t be afraid to try lots of different techniques and see how they work for you. It can be useful to keep a creative journal alongside your writing projects so you can take time out to observe how things are working for you.
Finding your way
Discovering what works for you, your genre, and your lifestyle should be a priority. There are multiple approaches you can try but you’ll tend to find a mix of methodologies work.
Books that are worth reading to inspire your writing process include:
- How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
But remember, no one approach is perfect for everyone. Adopt the techniques that work for you and let go of the ones that don’t even if the author is adamant they’re the best.
Where to start
If you’re new to writing and need somewhere to start, here is a simple process to try:
- Brainstorm your idea – grab a large piece of paper, journal or notebook and jot down everything you can about your idea eg scenes, settings, characters, research, plot twists and so on.
- Create an outline – this is where you shape your piece. If you’re writing fiction, think through your beginning, middle and end. If you’re writing another form, consider how it will start, flow and conclude.
- Start writing – your idea will only become a reality if you sit down and do the hard work of writing the actual piece. Don’t focus on all the hard work ahead but, instead, simply set out to write your first sentence, then the next, then the next…
- Keep writing – set a deadline and book creative time in your diary. Commit to your project and don’t edit as you go. Keep moving forward!
- Edit – after putting your first draft away for a week or two, revisit what you’ve written and start working on any changes and rewrites. Rework as much as you need before working with a professional editor to polish your manuscript.
Whether you are a new or seasoned writer, having a writing process that you follow can help you focus, stay motivated, and push through blocks.
Please don’t feel overwhelmed by the volume of advice out there. Use it as a way to light your path until you find your own way of working. Always keep an open mind.
Put on your writing boots and enjoy the journey ahead!