The Writing Process: A More Methodological Approach

by Jun 8, 2021

A more methodological approach, you say? OK, arguably the title of this article is a little misleading. Today, we are not addressing a methodological approach in respect of research paper methodology. Instead, in this post, we are covering the writing process, in more general terms. When it comes to writing in general, regardless of the topic or subject matter, do you actually have a process or a methodology behind the way you write? A method to the madness? Or are you more of a free-spirited, freethinker who likes simply to start writing, without much of a formal process or structure? Down below, here is an outline to a 5-step writing process, which should hopefully provide a bit more structure and quality to your writing.

Whilst there are various different approaches available, in general, the writing process can be broken up into five core steps:

1. Brainstorm & Generate Ideas

During the so-called ‘brainstorming’ stage, potential writing content is contemplated, and ideas are generated. As ideas are being formulated, it is important to bear in mind to whom are you writing for, as well as the type and purpose of writing that is being conducted. As an example, legal documents or written articles for a client will no doubt need to be written and styled in a different manner, than say for an academic essay.

Once the writing content and ideas have been narrowed down, it is then possible to start planning out a structure for how you will approach the task of cementing your ideas and background research into your writing.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller (writer)

2. Prepare an Outline

The next step is to create an outline. In this way, prior generated content ideas will be used to develop and plan out a structure for your writing. Significantly, it is important to realise that with certain types of writing, such as preparing an outline for an academic essay, the process will likely be different, according to the type and purpose of your writing.

Additionally, during this stage, it is important to ensure that your outline successfully achieves the criteria and requirements of the writing task that you are undertaking. If sources and links are to be included, it is best to make these trusted, authoritative sources. Additionally, the style and tone of the writing should match its intended purpose and audience.

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway (novelist)

Picture credit: Green Chameleon / Unsplash

3. Write a 1st Draft

During this stage, a 1st draft version (or rough version) of the writing is written out. It is important not to get too bogged down or distracted by editing concerns, such as with spelling mistakes and punctuation errors.

The main concern with this stage is to simply get your 1st draft written out. The main ideas, concepts, and content of your writing should be finalised in this stage. In addition, if your writing is designed to communicate a message to your audience, aspects of communication clarity should be carefully considered. Revisions and editing will be conducted in the next stage.

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” – Ernest Hemingway (novelist)

4. Revise and Edit

After the 1st draft is ready, the writing process then moves onto the revision and editing stage. Revision refers mainly to the process of organising your writing in a way to better cater to your audience, such as how they can comprehend and understand your work better. Style inconsistencies should also be revised.

Editing, on the other hand, refers mainly to the process of checking that your writing does not contain grammatical errors, or logical inconsistencies. Editing also, can include checking your writing to ensure that there are no poorly worded sections, or otherwise inappropriate content that could confuse or confound your audience.

“Half my life is an act of revision.” – John Irving (novelist, screenwriter)

5. Proofread and Finalise

During this stage, the writing is proofread and finalised to completion. This is your last chance to catch any errors, confusing language, or inconsistencies in your work. Once completed, the writing can be used for its intended purpose, whether that is for personal use, client documentation, essay submission, online publication, or other required uses.

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.” C. J. Cherryh (novelist)

In conclusion, whilst the writing process will be different for each individual and each unique purpose, adding a bit more conscious thought to the actual writing methodology and process that you utilise, often makes writing a more efficient, higher quality and less daunting endeavour. Additionally, the more your write, in general, the better you get at it.

PS – Don’t forget to check out our professional services, should you or your business require some assistance with your proofreading or editing projects. Thanks for reading!