The Writing Process

Recently, somebody on the Harry Potter roleplay site I frequent asked me how I write. Strangely enough, that is a very difficult question to answer. Unfortunately, there are so many paths writers use to get to their final product. There is no wrong way to get there, but some people prefer a specific method or process. After giving it much thought, I decided to describe my writing process in a drawn out way.

What is my current writing process?

My current writing process is a chaotic and less refined version of the proper writing process many writers follow. When I write papers, essays, short stories, and other writing projects, I always start the same way. I visualize my topic and speak to myself about the information. I used to speak into a voice recorder and would then write down what I spoke at a later date. I always thought leaving time between my thoughts and writing them down was the proper way to approach the process.

My thoughts were that the time frame difference would allow me to analyze the information from an unbiased point of view. After writing all of that information down, I would immediately begin researching my topic. I would research for hours to try and find information that supported my idea. Whether I used that information in the end was a moot point. I only did the research to reinforce that I was right in my thinking. Then I would write my draft the next day. This means there were times when I would wait a week after prewriting before I would write the first draft. This was a very long time. By the time I wrote the draft, my interest in the topic had sunk to a mere background thought in my mind.

After I wrote the draft, I would read it several times. I wouldn’t read it for unity, but rather for grammar, spelling, mechanics, and to ensure that each sentence made sense. I wasn’t worried about paragraph structure or the idea behind the topic sentence and supporting sentences. If everything made sense and was grammatically correct, I would submit my writing to whatever medium I was using; happily and confidently I might add. Thankfully, I’ve attempted to adapt to a proper writing process in my recent years.

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

I have always thought of myself as a decent writer. I would always display my writing as a sense of accomplishment and attempt to get others to read my written work. I never did it for editing and revising purposes, but for the reinforcement that what I wrote was great. That is one of my biggest weaknesses. I have always considered myself a person with thick skin; more than able to take criticism well. When it comes to my writing, I was always judgmental of myself but never willing to listen to what others might have to say. I need to recognize that this is a problem and learn to open up and trust in the judgment of others.

Another weakness I have with writing is that I tend to overthink my sentences and try to make my words sound smarter and more descriptive than necessary. Rather than saying, “The tree swayed gently in the wind,” I would change it to say, “The tree swayed gently in the wind, continually blowing back and forth, bobbing up and down.” The redundancy of that sentence hurts me. It metaphorically hurts me, and I do this in every project I write. I don’t know why.

I also tend to think something that sounds good in principle is better than the quality. If a paragraph has four or five sentences that does a good job of describing the topic, I immediately find a way to add more information, because I have a problem where quantity is better than quality. Another weakness that plagues my writing is word counts. If I am given an assignment or project with a word count, I find myself more worried about achieving the word count than I am about writing quality paragraphs and sentences.

Conversely, some of my strengths counter those weaknesses (or so I’d like to believe). One of the few strengths I have always valued is my ability to write with correct spelling and grammar. There are still parts of my grammar that need work, and I recognized this a long time ago, however, I believe that I have the ability to recognize incorrect spelling and grammar as well as using the correct form of both when prewriting and drafting.

Another strength I possess in writing is the ability to put my visualizations into words. If I look at a painting, I believe I do a relatively good job of describing that painting in decent detail with words. Knowing that I can write visualizations well, it only makes sense to assume that I can provide decent concrete details in my sentences. Once my topic sentence has been written, using this strength will help me provide detail sentences and quality paragraphs. That particular strength may help me overcome my weakness of “adding on to sentences to make them sound better”. It doesn’t matter if the sentence is shorter. The most important part is that the paragraph has a topic sentence with quality, concrete detailed sentences to support it.

What is a detailed plan of my writing process?

The writing process I use is as follows:

  • Prewriting
  • Planning
  • Drafting
  • Revising
  • Proofreading
  • Final Check

Each step is extremely important and does not necessarily have to be used in exact order throughout the entire process. You must begin with prewriting. After that, there are many different paths you can take. You may be planning your writing with an outline and find that you grow stale on ideas, so you return to the prewriting phase and brainstorm some more. Let’s break down each phase of the writing process. First, there is prewriting.

Prewriting consists of thinking. No matter how you conceive the ideas of your written work, prewriting is all methods of that conception. There are, however, certain types of prewriting that are considered effective. One type is the form of this blog post: freewriting. Each blog post I have written for this site involved writing, mostly non-stop, until I ran out of things to say on the subject. Some of the information is repeated and possibly not well structured, but each thing is a non-stop flow of words so as not to miss anything running through my mind. Another form of prewriting is brainstorming. I don’t normally follow this particular form of prewriting, but I have been known to make lists of ideas for a certain topic. An example would be something that happened to me in Minecraft, a video game on the computer, recently. I needed to come up with classes for a combat map I was building. I took out a notecard and just started writing down class ideas such as mage, warrior, bowman, fighter, swordsman, etc. Just making the list of classes and brainstorming the names was a form of prewriting. This way, no idea gets left behind.

Planning is the part of the process where you start to put the thoughts you came up with during prewriting into an order. During most writing processes, the planning stage usually has an informal outline that you’ll follow throughout the drafting phase. All of those random thoughts you had during the prewriting step start to take shape and begin forming a coherent paper or piece of writing that makes sense to the writer, as well as the reader.

Drafting is the next step in the writing process. This is where the prewriting ideas, which have now been shaped into an outline, begin to form the actual written work. The most important step in this part of the process is to never stop writing. Write the draft from beginning to end without stopping. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling mistakes. If you get stuck on an idea, keep going. You don’t want to lose concentration wondering if you spelled that word correctly or that the ideas are well thought out. Just keep writing until all of the ideas you’ve come up with in prewriting and planning are written.

Revising is when you can fix most of the mistakes you pushed aside during the drafting process. The most important first step in this process is to put aside the draft for a day or two before you start revising. If you immediately begin to revise the work you wrote, you’ll look at everything with biased eyes and most likely make more mistakes while overlooking the original mistakes you made. Have another person with a fresh set of eyes read your paper. They’re not looking for your grammatical mistakes, but for the mistakes in the clarity of the information you’ve written. Revising won’t be done on the very first try (well, it might, but as many revisions as needed is fine). During this step, you can go back to the prewriting and/or planning stages if necessary to pinpoint what information you’re missing or why the sentences seem confusing or incomplete. Use revision as many times as necessary to make sure everything is coherent, readable, and conveys the message you originally intended.

The final step in the writing process is proofreading. This final step is, in my opinion, the simplest step. There are many tools in the world to help with spelling and grammar. This particular step involves going over all of the grammatical, spelling, and mechanical mistakes throughout the paper. All of the coherence of the paper has already been corrected and changed. Sometimes, you may find yourself jumping back and forth between revising and proofreading your writing. This is perfectly fine and quite normal. Fortunately, after you’ve finished proofreading and making the appropriate changes, you’re now done with your written work! Congratulations! Give it one final read-through, and you’re set!

How do I even begin writing?

Getting to the desk to begin writing is one of the easiest tasks for me. Getting to the desk is also one of the most difficult tasks for me. I usually stay up through the night and constantly find myself with nothing to do at three o’clock in the morning. Sometimes, when that boredom strikes, I throw on some music and immediately start writing. I don’t think about what I’m going to write; I just write. I sit in front of the computer, or at a table with a pen and paper, and just start writing. It’s the simplest task, really. Sometimes, my writing turns into a short story about this or that. Sometimes, I get inspiration for a play, however, I cannot write without that background noise. If it’s the middle of the night, the dead quiet causes my mind to wander. I start thinking about the next days’ meals or how work will be horrible the next night or how much money I need to save for that trip I’m going to take next month. Fortunately, if I have music or a movie playing in the background, the noise somehow shuts out those distractions, and I find myself typing with vigor. If somebody is around me or talking to me, I can’t concentrate, and my mind will start wandering yet again. I very much enjoy writing, and I don’t struggle with the motivation to get to the desk. It’s once I get there where the true test begins. A little music, a little background noise, and a keyboard/pen; all I need to get started.

 

 

 

 

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