Writing is a process, not a one and done activity.
The writing process includes these 5 steps:
Let’s take a look at each of the 5 steps.
This step refers to what we do before rough drafting and includes researching and outlining.
When you research, you may be investigating Scripture, googling information, or gathering notes from your journal. My best tip for this stage—write it down! (or put in your device or computer). I love the research part of writing so I have to be careful I don’t go too far down the rabbit hole. At some point, you have to stop researching and move on to rough drafting.
Another key component of prewriting is outlining. Don’t be scared about outlining! I usually generate a short and sweet outline of topics that will become chapters. You may have heard the terms “planner” and “pantser.” A planner plans her manuscript thoroughly while a pantser writes by the seat of her pants.
I’m somewhere in between–in other words, a plantser😊 Find what works for you.
Prewriting prepares you for the next step. It helps the blank page not to be so intimidating.
Start writing. Just get your words down. They don’t have to be final words- in fact they probably shouldn’t be your final words.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from writer Annie Lamott, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a sh– first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.”
Quieting the voices in my head –that’s something we all have to work on. As we write, we have to tell ourselves, a rough draft is just that – rough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
People ask me what order I write in. I tend to write chronologically, from introduction to end of book. That’s just how my brain works. But by no means do you have to do this. Start writing where you have inspiration and information.
Revising means looking at your draft and tweaking it as far as content and craft. You need to look at things like organization, flow, enough content or too much. You are reworking, moving content or taking out, and in general making your manuscript “sing.”
This is also called proofreading and refers to correcting the little picky things like punctuation, spelling, grammar, typos. Here’s a link to a previous post on self-editing.
Honestly, it’s difficult to catch all our own mistakes. Yes, we need to edit our own work, but creating a completely error-free, or “clean,” manuscript, especially if it’s book-length, is very hard.
That’s why I get hired for this stage and the revising stage. Input from someone who is a professional will make your manuscript look professional (Go here to find out more about my writing coaching and editing of Christian nonfiction manuscripts).
This is your completely error-free, or “clean,” manuscript. This is the one ready for publishing.
The five steps can be executed in this order—or not! Depending on your style and rhythm, writing may be a linear process, following the above steps in order. Or it may be more of a circular process.
I’d love to help you in your writing process! You can schedule a free fifteen-minute phone call to see how I can partner with you in the process by filling out the form here.
Happy New Year, and happy writing!