How To Discover Your own Writing Process (10 Steps = 10 Min.)

Writing can seem easy for some people. The best way to discover your own writing process is to create phases. For the patient, it works like a charm.

For others, we are impatient. No matter how impatient we are, there are ways to discover your own writing process. When I wrote my first book, the question I always got was, “How long did it take?” Most people fear the mental marathons, laps, or sprints of writing. However, when you are a trained pro, these feats of mental and emotional endurance are normal.

Writing is the act of bringing thoughts from your brain into tangible communication formats that can be shared and used. The more you write the better you get. Each person has their own way to write most effectively and efficiently. The best way to discover your own writing process is to use the most common structure and develop your own habits within it.

In this article, I’m only going to focus on the action steps of the process. There are other elements to your writing process that will include mental preparation, emotional preparation, and spiritual well-being. For now, let’s dive right into the nuts and bolts of what needs to get done!

What does it take to discover your own writing process?

The best way to create your unique writing process is to go through a common process and adjust it to make it your own. In my process, I use 10 steps. You can take these steps and see how they work for you.

Below, I will share the most common steps and how you can begin tweaking them to work more specifically for you.

Step 1: Author’s Purpose (Start with “WHY”) The Reason you Are Writing

I like to start with purpose. Once you know why you are writing, you have a definite aim and a target audience for who will read your book, e-book, article, or essay.

Simon Sinek’s popular book resonates with this idea. He explains that in communication and marketing when we start with “WHY” we begin with the heart of the matter. Our brains are wired this way!

Once we understand our intention for communicating and the outcomes we want, it’s much easier to decide “HOW” we want to deliver the message and finally “WHAT” method (article, essay, blog post, email, book, e-book, course etc.) is best to deliver it. Some potential reasons for your writing could be:

  • To persuade
  • To inform
  • To entertain
  • To instruct and teach
  • To warn
  • To advise

Step 2: Brainstorm: Allow your mind to flow freely with ideas

I like to start brainstorming by imagining how the final message will be received and what type of combinations of ideas might help it be well received.

To help with brainstorming, it’s great to get ideas from everything around you. You can use nature, videos, articles, music, conversations, and books. Ask yourself thought-provoking questions like:

  • What are some interesting ways to present these ideas?
  • What two ideas can I combine that I’ve never thought of before?
  • What has been left unsaid about this topic?
  • What is something unique I can explore about this topic?

Be sure to write or record audio of your brainstorming session. You can use a notebook, notepad on your computer or phone, or a whiteboard. Even sticky notes can be great for brainstorming!

Step 3: Research: Gather material, evidence, resources, & data to support your ideas

After brainstorming, I like to go into a research phase. This allows me to gather more information. If you do a bunch of research before you write your why and brainstorm, it’s likely you’ll keep researching forever.

However, when you have decided on a specific purpose and done a little brainstorming, the research is easier. Your brain’s reticular activating system will know exactly what you are looking for. This is critical for finding ideas and examples that support your own ideas.

Be sure to use diverse sources. Primary sources include raw data statistics, speeches, transcripts from meetings, information from newsgroups, forums and social media, journal articles, white papers, questionnaires and surveys, first-person accounts, abstracts, press releases, and breaking news.

Secondary sources include books, radio shows, television shows, films (documentaries), magazine articles, news analysis, and blog postings.

Tertiary sources include bibliographies, citations, literature guides, library catalogs, and course syllabi.

Step 4: Pre-writing: Sketching out potential topics and angles to select

In this step, we flesh out the ideas a little more to see if there are any patterns or contrasts. Sometimes, you’ll see something that immediately stands out. Other times, it will be more subtle and take longer. Be patient.

The most important part of this step is to create options for yourself and make the process of writing a lot easier. With so much research, and ideas from brainstorming, you may think of unique titles, hooks, angles, or important information that has not been communicated on a topic.

You can even draw visual symbols or doodles! Do whatever it takes to get your juices flowing and be eager to write. If you’ve done this step correctly, you will begin feeling like you are ready to tackle your writing project whether it is large or small.

Step 5: Organizing & Outlining: Creating the skeleton of your draft

On this step, it’s important for us to think of the mind of our reader. While you may have made many connections from your brainstorming, research, and pre-writing, most people will appreciate a logical structure.

Everything we write has a beginning, middle, and end. At this stage it’s important to estimate how long your writing will be. If you are writing a book or e-book, decide on the number of pages, number of words, and how many chapters. If you are writing an essay, article or blog post, decide on the number of words, steps, and paragraphs.

For example, if you know you want to write a 2,000 word essay, your intro may be 400 words, your body paragraphs maybe 1200 words and your conclusion may be 400 words. This means each of your body paragraphs (1,200 divided by 3) will be 400 words.

By creating a simple outline you can break your writing into very simple chunks. We’ve all heard the quote, “How did the mouse eat the elephant? One-piece at a time!” If you know you are ready to write five 400-word paragraphs it’s a lot easier than just saying “I will write 2,000 words!”

More importantly, you can visually structure your outline and begin with clear outcomes for each part.

  1. Intro (400 words)
    1. Explain why I am writing this topic
    2. Give my reader some background
    3. Paint a picture of what to expect reading this
  2. Body paragraph 1 (400 Words)
    1. Introduce my first point
      1. Example of my first point
      2. Another example etc.
  3. Body paragraph 2 (400 Words)
    1. Introduce my 2nd point
      1. Example of my 2nd point
      2. Another example etc.
  4. Body paragraph 2 (400 Words)
    1. Introduce my third point
      1. Example of my third point
      2. Another example etc.
  5. Conclusion (400 Words)
    1. Summarize my main points
    2. Draw a conclusion based on evidence or facts
    3. Provoke thoughts or further dialogue on a topic

Of course, this is a simplified example, more useful for an essay, blog post, or article. However, a book or e-book could be Intro Chapter, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Final Chapter.

The only difference would be the amount of detail going into each section. For a book of 90,000 words. It may be broken up into chapters of 10,000 – 18,000 words a piece. Either way, inside each chapter, you can apply the same logic to create an organized book to get your first draft done.

Step 6: Drafting – Getting the words onto paper or on your computer

This is the best part of the entire process! Divide your paper or word processor document into the appropriate word count sections.

Begin writing! It’s important in this stage to write as much as you can for each section without trying to get it perfect. You will be coming back to revise this writing. Just keep going using your notes and ideas to explain your topic.

This is the phase most people associate with writing. This is the natural flow that benefits from your relaxation, typing speed, creativity, and thinking abilities. It helps to have fun with this part of the process. Close out as many tabs as possible. Listen to meditative music. Cut off distractions. Give yourself a set amount of time to finish the draft and hit your word count!

Once you’ve hit your word count, you can celebrate! Now you have something concrete that you can always build, form, revise, and improve.

Step 7: Revising – go back add, remove, change, and adjust your words

Depending on how much you are writing and your writing purpose, it’s important to give yourself a little time, space, and distance from your original draft.

Give yourself one day or two, or a couple of hours at the minimum to do something else. As writers, our eyes and brain get a bit fried from focusing on words, typing, and screens for so long. Do something enjoyable and rewarding. Go for a walk. Get out in nature. Eat something. Have a cup of coffee or tea.

When you are ready to look back over your work, you can begin deciding where you want to make adjustments. Revising is another skill in and of itself, which I will cover extensively in other articles. For now, just know that in this phase, your goal is to make sure your writing is clear and easy to read.

Read your writing aloud. Or use a natural voice text reader to read your written words. If you notice any parts that are hard to read or choppy, that means you may need to break up or restructure sentences. You can also use tools like Grammarly or Hemmingwayapp to make sure you are not writing in a passive voice, using too many adverbs, or being unnecessarily wordy.

Step 8: Editing – Developmental/Substantive, Structural, Copy, and Line Editing

The biggest mistake people make about editing is expecting it to be done in one pass. Editing is also a process in and of itself. It can make or break your project. Another question that arises is, “Can I edit my own work?” Of course, you can! In fact, it is highly recommended and important for you to edit your writing.

The smaller the project, the easier it is to edit. Larger projects are more involved and take much more time to edit. Start with your own developmental editing. In this case, it’s best to go back over your purpose and brainstorm.

Does the entire article, paper, or book have the meaning you intend it to? Does it flow well from idea to idea? Do you give each idea enough support and examples? Are there any major gaps?

If you can get more developmental editing done first, it will save you a lot of time and money when you decide to hire editors. You can also look at the structural editing of your project before you pass it on. Is it well-organized according to your outline? Does it make logical sense to you? Is it structured in a way that is simple to read?

When it comes to Copy Editing/Line Editing, you can do a little as you go along and use spell check, grammar checkers, and apps like Grammarly to help. In this phase, you will also pay more attention to word choice and placement.

Are there any words you are using too much? Are there any phrases or sentences that are repeated? Are any sentences longer than necessary?

Finally, mechanical editing covers detailed spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting issues. This is reserved for last, and always better to pass on to different sets of eyes, because it’s easier for outside editors to catch pesky typos, misprints, or misspelled words.

After focusing on the text for so long, and thinking about other aspects, it will also benefit you greatly to take a break and allow someone else to catch these smaller mistakes.

Step 9: Peer-Reviewing: Letting others see your work for feedback

Depending on your personal and professional network, sharing your work with a few of your closest colleagues, friends, family, or a mastermind group will help you get some important early feedback about your work.

Many people are busy these days, so it will be important to be tactful about how much you ask of them. Maybe you can email them one chapter at a time, or one part of your essay.

Either way, if you let them know you trust their opinion and value their time, they might be really excited to read some of your latest writing.

Peer reviews can also be done online with people connected with you online. In Facebook groups or Clubhouse rooms, you can read work to people, and get their feedback. They have more questions, concerns, or comments that will help you have a greater impact on your readers.

Step 10: Publishing: Releasing your writing into the world

To publish means To prepare and issue (a book, music, or other material) for public distribution, especially for sale. Essentially, you are bringing to the public attention that you have something new to contribute to the collective whole of humanity!

You might be wondering how? It’s important to remember that you will never feel 100% perfect about your writing. You may have doubts about your topic, your viewpoint, or your delivery.

What’s more important is that you’ve done your best in all the steps to use a writing process that makes writing fun and enjoyable for you. This way, when it is time to publish your work, you’ll be able to share it confidently and enthusiastically.

Whether you publish on your website, on a blog, or for a publication, be ready for anything! Some may not like your work. However, many may like your work! It doesn’t matter. Remember, you are a pro. As a pro, you take the good with the bad. You take the positive with the negative.

If you publish on Amazon.com or any other various distribution outlets, you will also be able to see feedback and reviews from people all over the world! In today’s digital world, you have the opportunity to make a great impact with your writing. Don’t take it lightly and do your best!

When it comes to self-publishing or publishing with a major company, it is a decision you’ll have to make. Usually, self-publishing grants you more ownership and control over your work. However, you will be financing all of your marketing.

With a major publishing deal, you give up some of the rights for ownership and control over your writing, with limited financial support for your marketing. I will cover the pros and cons of both in articles to come.

For now, take these 10 steps to discover your own writing process and mold them into your own unique method that allows you to be a highly prolific pro writer or pro author!

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