Everything we do has a process that must be followed in order for that task to be completed. For example, cooking: to make any sort of food, there is a recipe and list of directions to follow, otherwise that food will turn out to be inedible. The same goes for taking a test, working 0ut, writing an essay, etc. In the same way, every writer has a different way of going about their writing. Some pull out a notepad and pen, others open their computer and use their favorite word-processing program. Every writer also has their own way – or style – of actually producing a piece of writing – that is, what steps they go through to finish a specific piece of writing.
It’s taken me a while to find the habits that work best for me, but now that I do, the routine of it can actually improve my writing sometimes because I’ve trained myself to think and do it that way. For me, I like to use my computer to write. I can switch around words and phrases a lot easier, and I’m a much faster typist than I am if I’m writing with a pen and paper. As for the writing of the piece itself, the process slightly depends on what it is that I’m writing. Since I’m primarily a creative writer, when I think of my own personal “writing process,” what comes to mind is the process I use when I’m writing a creative piece – i.e., poetry, a novel chapter or a short story.
Usually a piece will start out as a raw idea of inspiration – an emotion, a conviction, or – if I’m doing prose – a certain scenario or scene occurs to me. If I’m able to, I usually like to get that idea down, and any other ideas that might occur to me as branches off of that first main bit of inspiration. Sometimes, though, I get hit with some bit of inspiration when I have nothing to write my ideas down with but my phone – so I text the bare bones of the idea to myself, so that I can write it down and use it later.
After I’ve got the inspiration, I start on a first draft. If it’s poetry, this starts out very rough… no rhymes, no rhythm, just bare ideas in a rough form. Prose starts out a little less rough because it tends to have a bit more flow to it, so the problems I run into later when I’m editing are more about content running away with itself! After I’ve written a first draft, I go back and fix the obvious mistakes, and clarify vague areas in the text as well as cut and add content where it needs it.
And then I let it sit. I’ve found that leaving a piece be for a good length of time allows my mind to recover from the excitement and emotion of having had a good bout of inspiration. So, after a day or two, I’m better able to come back to the piece with a more distant eye, and I’m able to find the jumps in logic or awkwardness in the lines or sentences without that bias of, “Oh wow this is such a great, amazing idea!”
At that point, after having let it sit and then re-edited it, the piece is usually “done.” Sometimes more time will pass after that second bout of editing, and I’ll come back to the piece and edit it again, but most often, I consider it “done” after the first wait period.
As I’ve mentioned before, I often post my work on a number of websites, and this is usually what I do after a piece is finished. I seek critique and comment on it, and if I succeed in getting either of those, I consider using it to practically improve my writing skills.
I’d be very interested to hear what your writing process is and what you think of mine, so please don’t by shy with comments! As always, thanks for reading!