article written by Sophie Poirier
Every writer is different. Things that work for some might not work for others. Even though I love the craft, it’s not always easy, and I don’t always like what I write. The idea of writing is different from the reality of it. It takes a lot more effort and work than some might think. It takes a lot of reworking and editing, but that’s what makes the final product so satisfying to read. Hopefully by sharing my writing process, I can offer an insight into the craft and inspire other writers.
The first step in my writing process is simple and obvious: I start by writing. I usually like to have an idea already established. Whenever I can’t think of anything, there are certain things that I do. Doing a simple google search on writing prompts is an easy and efficient method to use when you’re feeling kind of stuck. I also like to ask somebody to give me a word or a phrase, and write something based off of that. Additionally, reading other people’s work allows my creativity to flow, especially since it gives me an opportunity to get out of my own head and to explore other perspectives.
The First Draft
My first draft of a story is always very different from the last. The purpose of a first draft is to get all the ideas out there and to create a base for the story. It doesn’t even have to be good. You don’t have to worry about grammar or spelling. For me, it’s better to start writing deliberately without thinking about those things. You may even notice, in the above image, that I make a note about verb tenses. This was only a reminder for myself later in the editing process. I didn’t want to think about it right away as I wanted to continue writing my draft. Constantly thinking about the structure of my sentences while I’m writing only distracts me and breaks my flow of ideas. I can worry about structure later. Right now, I want my ideas on the page.
Handwriting or typing
I use both. I usually start out by handwriting my ideas or a first draft, and then typing it into a Word document. Typing my work allows me to reread what I wrote and to make changes as I go along.
Whether or not I end up using anything I originally write, it’s important for me to go through that process. We’ve all got to start somewhere, and like anything else, it takes work and patience. The number of pages I end up writing varies every time. I try to write as much as possible, but sometimes I am only able to get out a page or two, which is perfectly okay. There’s no need to discourage myself for not writing as much as I would have liked. Sometimes the ideas don’t flow.
After I write an original draft I’ll reread what I wrote (and cringe a little bit at the awful grammar), which will usually inspire more ideas that I will write down in point-form. This is where I start thinking more about the plot and the characters. Then I’ll write some more, have new ideas, and write again after that. The more time I spend working on the story and the plot allows me to strengthen and improve my writing. It can also be overwhelming at times, as I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and new directions for a story.
How I do I choose the best path for my story?
I think about who I want my characters to be. They are the most essential part of a story, and I want to focus on them first. I think of the plot in relation to the character’s growth (or digression). Going through everything I’ve written so far, I determine the things that I want to keep and those I don’t, making updated notes. I will often edit or rewrite some of my excerpts to fit my improved vision.
Depending on the length of the story I write, I will begin planning the plotline in accordance to everything I’ve already written. Usually, I like to keep the plotline a bit more vague so that I don’t feel restricted when I’m writing. I still want to be able to get lost in my writing and to let my imagination lead me.
The Editing Process
Once I have a good portion of the story written, I will start thinking about the structure. Rereading what I’ve written, I will edit grammar, spelling, sentence structure and other technical errors while also editing the plot. I usually edit my stories for what feels like (and what probably is) a thousand times until I’m satisfied enough to let others read it. Having someone else read, edit, and make suggestions to your work is very beneficial as they often see things you don’t.
The Final Draft
I don’t think I will ever be fully satisfied with a finished product. Every time I reread something I’ve written, I see things I could change and new ideas I could incorporate. I am my biggest critic. That’s why I think it’s very important to not only keep writing, but to keep improving what I write. Even if you have a hard time editing your own work, have someone else take a look at it. Like I said, a first draft can be very different from the final work.
Even though sometimes I hate what I write, it’s never as bad as I think. Having others’ feedback also helps in this aspect. At some point, I have to remind myself not to be so hard on myself. I think that as long as I convey what it is that I want in my story, I did a good job. While it can be a little discouraging at times, the best advice I can give to those struggling with their writing is to just keep writing. Practice makes perfect after all.