“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~Steve Wright
Are you an “aspiring” writer, a writer who doesn’t write consistently, a hapless victim of writer’s block?
Perhaps you have starting trouble, aka the blank mind facing the blank page. Perhaps you have trouble finishing whatever you start and your hard drive is filled with the debris of uncompleted articles, stories and novels.
But don’t despair. I’ve discovered the solution that will transform you from a wannabe writer to a professional writer who can produce high-quality content fast and on demand. It seems simple, almost simplistic, but it works wonders.
The solution to all your writing woes is rooted in this insight:
Writing is not an act, it’s a process.
Successful writers are successful because they have created and follow a systematic process of writing.
I recently heard best-selling author Marcia Shimoff describe her writing process in three steps:
This is the stage of preparation before you start to write. This step includes planning, research, thinking, reflection, and mind mapping. The goal of this step is to gain enough knowledge about the topic.
According to writing coach, Daphne Gray-Grant, writers who skip this step soon land in trouble. Among all these steps, she feels mind mapping is the magic bullet that can solve all your writing problems. (Read on to find out how to grab her free e-book on mind mapping.)
It’s best to do this preparatory work away from the computer. For example, Ed Gandia, co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer, says, “I do my best thinking while I am chopping onions and celery.”
Prewriting is also the stage where you figure out the title and the specific angle or lead of your article.
2. Free Writing
The next step is the actual writing where you are moving your fingers across the keyboard (or pen across paper). Write continuously in concentrated bursts, preferably for a specified period of time, say, 15 to 30 minutes. Keep your fingers moving and don’t stop to think or to stare at space.
Daphne thinks that the number one mistake most writers make is to allow themselves to edit while they write. She says, “Editing while writing is as crazy an idea as doing the dishes while you are still eating your dinner.”
Free writing is a creative practice. During this time you are in an inspired state of flow. Editing while writing slows you down and lets your internal critic stall and ultimately stop you dead in your tracks. So don’t edit while writing. One way to do this is to switch off or cover your computer monitor while you are writing.
This third and final step is the easiest among the three stages of the writing process. It includes substantive editing (revising) and copyediting.
Revising means restructuring and playing around with ideas and words—removing, adding, rearranging, and replacing them.
Copyediting means checking for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, and style.
As far as possible, you should revise your work with “fresh” eyes. So, after you finish the first draft, take a break for at least a day.
Most writers read their work out aloud during the revision process. (Try it.)
It’s also advisable to ask someone else to review your work before you submit it. Perhaps you can partner with one of your writer friends and review each other’s words.
To conclude, it’s important not only to have a process but also to do the steps in the right order. All successful writers use a writing system to ensure that they produce high-quality content fast and on demand.
What writing process do you follow?
Is it working for you or do you need to tweak it for better results?
Let us know in the comments below.
Eight Steps to Writing Faster, Better
One of the best podcasts on the process of writing, featuring Ed Gandia and Daphne Gray-Grant. In addition to the audio file, this webpage includes detailed show notes.
Publication Coach Blog
Daphne Gray-Grant’s website contains her incredibly valuable tips on the writing process. Subscribe to her weekly Power Writing newsletter and get her free Mind mapping e-book.
(4 June 2014)
Rohi Shetty is a freelance writer who riffs about the importance of humor, mindful mojo, and creative entrepreneurship at http://rohishetty.com. He is also a star student of Danny Iny’s Audience Business Masterclass. You can connect with him on Twitter at @rohishetty.