Writing process–if you Google for the term, you will get a variety of results, each slightly different than the others, but all talking about the same thing. Do I have to know this if I want to write something? Good writers know the process. Great writers master it!
In talking about writing process, we’re talking about the basics. The stages or steps are pretty much the same whether you’re writing a paper for school, a blog post, web page, book, or article. The basic process remains the same over all genres and writing situations.
So, before you throw your hands up and panic, let’s take a look at the first basic element of the writing process and see how it applies to your writing.
It always pays to start with a plan. There’s nothing new about that. It’s true in many areas of life, not just in writing. Taking the time to plan what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, who your target audience is, and why you’re doing it are just some of the parts of your plan.
What writing format are you using?
Is your goal to write an eBook or a hard copy book? Are you writing blog posts? Will this piece be published in a magazine or online somewhere? Determining the format your writing will take is part of planning your writing. It’s part of this initial phase of the writing process.
What is your topic: the main point, story, or information?
It is most valuable to determine specifically the core message of your writing. Identifying this stops the “rabbit-trail” writing that tends to happen when you’re searching for where to go as you write. This keeps your writing focused and direct–two key elements to good writing.
The acid test for knowing your core message is to work with your concepts until you can write it in a single sentence. Yes, it’s very similar to a thesis statement. Refining your concepts into that one central focus is a helpful assist to clear and coherent writing.
Who is your targeted audience?
Who are your intended readers? For whom are you writing your material? This is necessary to determine in the planning part of the writing process for a number of reasons.
Knowing who you’re writing to determines how you write your content. Demographic information helps in determining format, writing style, and more. Recognizing interests & lifestyles of your reader helps adapt your information to them.
You want to reach the right people with your writing. In some cases, you may be writing to a specific gender, ethnic background, political leaning, or religious belief.
To write about thru-hiking, for example, decide what you want to share and what group of people you want to read it. Target those who are either already thru-hikers or those who are interested in starting. Your writing will also be interesting to the armchair hiker as well, but the focus is quite specific.
When are you writing?
The adage, A dream without time applied is still a dream, is very true regardless of how much you might not like it. An often overlooked aspect to the planning phase is mapping out your project and goal setting.
Both mapping and setting target dates along the way add a new dimension to your writing. Don’t rush yourself, but don’t leave yourself without targets either.
It’s legit at times to be a little late on a target date, but without those targets, your project runs the real risk of never being written. That would be a true loss.
Good writers know the process. Great writers master it!” ~ Jane Rucker
What is mapping? In the writing process, mapping is deciding realistically what is involved in creating your finished product. What is it going to take complete your writing?
With calendar in hand, sit down and calculate to the best of your knowledge how long it could take to complete the writing process for your project. (You will learn more in future posts to assist you in doing this.)
Depending on what your writing project is and how involved it is, your mapping could cover a day or two, a few months, or a year or more. Be honest with yourself about how many hours a day or week you can actually commit to your writing. That also impacts the length of your time frame.
Determining this in the planning stages keeps you from the impatience and disappointments that haunt the unprepared writer. If you know you can only write a few hours a week and you’re writing a 20-chapter book, knowing up front that it will take you 16 months to complete it is a huge plus. Discouragement can’t take you out when you know where you’re going and when you plan on getting there.
Where are you writing?
At first glance, this might seem a dumb question. I assure you, it is not. Many times a client has told me about their hunt for adequate quiet space to write their manuscript. In our culture of busyness, your writing suffers or stops completely for lack of knowing where and when to do it.
Take the time during this planning phase to consider where you can write. Where can you sit quietly without interruptions or distractions, with your research materials at hand, and write with undivided attention for a span of at least a couple of hours or so?
Obviously, the answer to that question can be quite different for each person. Therefore, what matters is that you figure out for real what the answer is for you. You might have to deal with family, kids, school activities, work, etc. There is seemingly no end to the responsibilities of life. And then, of course, sometimes you just want to have some fun.
But in the midst of all that life happening around you, as a serious writer committed to a writing project, you have to carve out those spaces of time that belong to just you and your writing. Identifying those times and spaces in this phase of the writing process makes your way doable and smoother than trying to run without a plan.
That’s a wrap!
There you go! As you can see, the first phase of the writing process probably does not look like anything you expected. None of it is extremely hard. No in-depth or special education is required. You can do this! That writing you’ve always wanted to do is waiting for you to roll up your sleeves and get started.
And this planning phase is exactly where to begin! Get out there and dust off your writing dreams; it’s never too late to begin. The rewards of fulfilling this first phase of the writing process will build your confidence and excitement at moving on into the next level. We’ll talk about it in Part 2.
If you need any help with any of this in your project, drop me an email. We can arrange reasonably priced consultations to help you build a strong foundation. As always, I want to help you write more, write better, write now!
Thank you & God Bless!