The Seven-Step Writing Process
The start-to-finish writing process consists of the following steps: Research. Gather the ingredients. For nonfiction works, you may delve deeply into external research. Fiction may require more introspection and exploration. Although the research phase often continues even as you are drafting, eventually you have enough material to move on. Let the ideas incubate. Leave time to activate the Muse before you start drafting. Your brain is like the yeast organisms in bread dough, breathing life into the raw materials you’ve accumulated. Give it a chance to work. Structure the piece. Read through your notes and assemble a rough outline or other structure for your draft. Assemble the first draft. It’s time to dig in and create the first draft. You may have an unattractive mess when you’re done, but you’ll be on the path to something better. Rest before revision. Just as you would leave the bread dough alone to rise, let the first draft sit so you can get distance. “Not-writing” is an important stage of the process. Thoughts, phrases, different perspectives, and inspiration often strike as the draft rests. Revise and proofread. Revision is like the second kneading phase in bread making—vital to the quality of the result. You’ll wrestle with the piece from different angles, shaping it into its final form. And a final proofreading is the finishing touch. Publish. Decide when it’s time to publish. Impatient as you may be for the final product, you don’t want to put your work out in the world half baked. You already know how to write, of course, and may wonder why you need instructions. Following a defined method delivers three important benefits: A recipe makes it easier to manage time so you can set and meet deadlines while juggling concurrent projects. You can plan and schedule opportunities for creativity. By breaking the work into its component steps, you can bring the right mental system (the Scribe or the Muse) to each task.