As a freelance writer through my business, Feather Communications, I am often asked, “How do you write?” Or, “I always find it so difficult to put my thoughts into words, what is your secret?” While I don’t know that there is a secret to writing success, I often turn to the writing process I learned years ago.
The writing process is certainly no secret and many of us learned it in elementary school. However, as we get older, we concentrate so much on using the ‘right’ words, that we forget the important part of the process.
First, a good writer does pre-writing. I consider this stage to be the research stage. Think about what you want to write about and jot some notes. This could be considered a mini-outline. While you are not writing during this stage, you are making notes and sketching out a practical way of organizing your information.
A good example of pre-writing is what I do each month for the Menomonie Optimist Club Newsletter. I receive information throughout the month for this 4-page newsletter. I create a new file for each month’s newsletter. As I receive information, I save it in this file. Then, when I am ready to create the newsletter, I make a list of each item I have and determine the best way to incorporate it into the newsletter. This pre-writing stage saves me a great deal of time. If you do this when creating a longer document, I can help you work toward completing each section. These mini-goals will keep you motivated.
The second stage of writing is the actual writing stage. This is probably the shortest stage. The mistake that many people make is trying to write the document perfectly during this stage. This is nearly impossible. When I write articles, newsletters, press releases, or other materials, my focus is writing the information and getting it ‘written.’ While it is nowhere near perfect at this time, that is okay.
The last stage is revising and proofreading. This is the stage where a writer should spend most of his or her time. When writing for a client, I typically revise and proofread several times before I send the document for approval. During this stage, you can focus on using descriptive adjectives, exciting verbs, and specific words. This is the time to ensure you are saying what you want to say and you are saying it HOW you want to say it.
When you have your next writing project, think about these stages. Remember that most of your time should be spent in the pre-writing and revising stages. The actually writing should be the shortest of the three stages. Take these tips and put them to use. After all, who doesn’t want to make the writing process easier?