A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, I threw out a very simple question, “what shall I write about?” I received a variety of comments ranging from donuts to my own awesomeness, both of which are excellent topics, but I’m pretty sure they’re not what you’re looking for here. The truth is, it can be a challenge to find fresh topics to write about on a regular basis. After four and a half years of writing about writing, the last thing I want to do is bore anyone or get redundant on you.
Admittedly, I asked the question to stimulate discussion more than anything else, but I was intrigued by some of the responses enough to consider adding them to my “to do” list.
One Twitterer suggested I get back to basics and discuss my own writing process.
I liked it.
I liked it because the writing process is different for everyone. We all have our own order of doing things. Some of us can’t write without an outline and others prefer the top of the head approach. Some of us need a gallon of coffee to get us through while others prefer a diet soda or some tea. I like this topic because we can all share what we do, and there will be no wrong answers.
So in following that advice about getting back to basics, I’m going to share my writing process with you and show how I organize my thoughts from start to finish. After that, I’d like you to share your process as well.
Deb’s Writing Process
1. Choose a topic: I find inspiration everywhere. Shopping, reading, listening to the news, talking with friends and by visiting the social networks and asking questions. There are so many different ways to choose topics, though it’s more of a challenge to choose original topics.. The drafts section of my WordPress is filled with ideas as I generally enter about two or three titles each day. When I make up my week’s editorial calendar I revisit each of the titles and work out ideas. Some titles have been sitting in draft for months because I’m still not sure which way to take the, others are a no brainer.
Step.Away. From. The. Google.
Web searches come later. Before I start gathering research for my topic, I like to think of the different ways I can gather research without having to resort to search engines. Considerations include reading books and magazines at the library and interviewing experts. Once I’m ready for the web I like to use government, university and other official and reliable sites to ensure I’m not writing from someone’s already regurgitated and factually incorrect content.
3. Create an Outline: I’m a firm believer in the power of the outline. Outlines help to organize thoughts, find the piece’s natural progression and create a cohesive article. If I’m ever stumped for where to go next, I only need to create or look to an outline for inspiration. Many of the list posts you see at FWJ are the result of an outline. Yeah, I’m a fan.
4. Write: After I gather my research and create my outline, I begin writing. Sometimes I use the outline points as subheads (as I did with this piece) other times, it’s a reference point. I don’t worry about spelling or usage at this point, I let the words flow freely until I’m done.
5. Tweak: When writing for my clients, nothing is done until it gets a proof or two…or three. After I write, I tweak. I read what I write, tighten my sentences, fix typos and consider whether more information is necessary. If it’s not a piece for me or this blog, I check it against my clients’ instructions to make sure it’s what they’re looking for. I admit to not being as diligent to proofreading before publishing here. I always give my posts at least a quick once over, but if I’m in a hurry, they don’t get the same attention as I give to my clients.
The piece isn’t done yet. It gets another proof and more tweaks and reads until I feel it’s perfect. No matter how many times I have my glasses upgraded, I still don’t catch certain silly mistakes – I’m sure that’s happened to you as well. Sometimes, I’ll have a second set of eyes look over important works because I want to be sure I’m turning in clean writing. I can be very insecure about my writing and having another person proofread gives me peace of mind.
Now, this isn’t what you have to do. I’m just sharing how I like to work out a piece of writing. I use this method for blog posts, ebooks, articles and even speaking gigs.
I’m interested in learning how you do it. Do you just write or do you have a list of steps you go through? Please share…