Whether you know it or not, there’s a process to writing – which many writers follow naturally. If you’re just getting started as a writer, though, or if you always find it a struggle to produce an essay, short story or blog, following the writing process will help. Let us explain briefly what each stage of the writing process involves. The first and foremost is prewriting. This covers everything you do before starting your rough draft. As a minimum, prewriting means coming up with an idea! Ideas are like inspiration and they are all around you. By keeping a notebook of ideas you can jot down the thoughts that occur throughout the day. Once you have an idea, you need to expand on it. Don’t make the mistake of jumping straight into your writing – you’ll end up with a badly structured piece.
There are a couple of popular methods you can use to add flesh to the bones of your idea. Open a new document or start a new page, and write everything that comes into your head about your chosen topic. Don’t stop to edit, even if you make mistakes. Write the idea or topic in the center of your page. Jot down ideas that arise from it – sub-topics or directions you could take with the article.
During your free writing and brainstorming, you’ll have come up with lots of thoughts. Some belong in this piece of writing: others can be kept for another time. Then, decide how to order those ideas. Try to have a logical progression. Sometimes, your topic will make this easy: in this article, for instance, it made sense to take each step of the writing process in order. For a short story, try the eight-point story arc. If you’re a new writer, you might be surprised that professional authors go through multiple drafts before they’re happy with their work. This is a normal part of the writing process – no-one gets it right first time. Writing requires concentration and energy. If you’re a new writer, don’t try to write for hours without stopping. Instead, give yourself a time limit (like thirty minutes) to really focus – without checking your email! Revising your work is about making “big picture” changes. You might remove whole sections, rewrite entire paragraphs, and add in information which you’ve realized the reader will need. Everyone needs to revise – even talented writers.
Finally comes the summing up stage most commonly known as A.R.R.R. (Adding, Rearranging, Removing, Replacing) If you haven’t met the required word-count, what areas could you expand on? This is a good point to go back to your prewriting notes – look for ideas which you didn’t use. Even when you’ve planned your piece, sections may need rearranging. Perhaps as you wrote your essay, you found that the argument would flow better if you reordered your paragraphs. Maybe you’ve written a short story that drags in the middle but packs in too much at the end. These stages of the writing process are a framework for writing well and easily.