One Size Does Not Fit All
By Deanna Mascle
Developing an individual writing process is a key part of becoming a real writer. If you want to learn and grow as a writer then you must work to develop a unique writing process. If you want to be a more productive writer and for your work to improve then you must develop a unique writing process.
While most writing processes contain the same basic elements, each individual writing process is as individual as the writer it serves. Each writing process contains these steps: brainstorming, organizing, writing, revising and editing. Some people condense the essentials into only three parts: brainstorming and organization as one, writing, and then revising and editing as the final step. While you may well end up with some variation of a writing process that is close to the latter I think when you are first individualizing your writing process you should start with the five distinct steps.
How do you begin to develop your own unique writing process? You must write — a lot — and you must experiment with different methods and different styles and different variations within each of the five steps. Even if you find the “idea” of one experiment to be uncomfortable or unwieldy then you must still give it a try because that might be the key to unlocking your own successful style.
This is especially important when it comes to the first step in the process — generating ideas. Experiment with all the variations of brainstorming you hear about from free writing, clustering, questioning, listing and journaling as well as the many other options out there.
After you have spent time brainstorming it is important to begin putting those ideas into some semblance of organization. Sometimes you will need to do this on paper and sometimes it can be done in your head. You may be able to do some rough organization with arrows, numbers or highlighting or perhaps you might need to use note cards or a computer program. Again, experimentation is key to find the method that works best for you.
The actual writing portion of your writing process should be the easiest and least painful. Remember, you will take care of revision and editing later on so you only need to worry about filling your required allotment of pages. Do not slow down your creative process by self editing as you write. Just let it flow and sort it out later.
Some writers combine revision and editing but I like to separate these steps. In my mind, revision is the heavy lifting where you continue to write and rewrite as well as refine and reorganize. Most of my writing involves multiple drafts in the revision stage.
I personally consider editing to deal with those fine, picky details such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It might to some extent involve word choice but usually those details are dealt with during revision. Do not forget to read your work out loud at this point to catch awkward sentence and paragraph structure.