Posted on 06/11/2020 at 01:23 PM by Guest Author

As an author, you should be familiar with the six basic stages of the writing process. Discover more about why this process is important and what each stage entails.

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Why You Should Know the Stages of the Writing Process  

Like most authors, you likely have your own unique approach to writing books.

When you sit down to tell a story or provide in-depth coverage of a topic, you follow certain steps to bring your idea to life.

Although there’s nothing wrong with tackling each new project according to your personal preferences, it’s still worth revisiting the six basic stages of the writing process from time to time.         

Why?

First, it’s simply a good practice to develop, especially if writing professionally is something you’ve only started doing recently.

Running through the various stages of the writing process ensures you’ve covered your bases. It keeps you organized and helps you work more efficiently. As a result, you can look forward to a better finished product every time. 

Second, consciously going through each stage of the writing process can be a great way of getting unstuck when you’re struggling to take an idea to the finish line.

Although writing is a creative endeavor, sometimes it helps to have a little more structure. Just knowing how to begin can break down those mental barriers that keep you from moving forward. 

Third, though you may have your own routine when it comes to writing, chances are you’re following the basic steps anyway — even if you don’t realize it.

In that case, it wouldn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the terminology. That way, you can keep a mental (or physical) checklist, adjusting it to fit your creative workflow.  

With all of that in mind, we wanted to take this opportunity to give you a refresher on (or possibly an introduction to) the six stages of the writing process.

Ready? Let’s dive in…

Stage 1 – Prewriting 

As the name suggests, the prewriting stage consists of the work you do before you actually start writing your book.

This stage tends to vary the most from one author to the next, as everyone generates ideas differently. Ultimately, it comes down to how you brainstorm and flesh out concepts that pop into your head.    

Some of the tasks you may perform during this stage include…

  • Jotting down notes about a real-life scene

  • Drawing inspiration from a childhood event

  • Gathering information about a topic that interests you

  • Thinking about how a character should look, sound, and act

  • Pulling out part of a writing prompt 

When one of your ideas begins to take shape, that’s when you move on to the next stage. 

Stage 2 – Planning 

It’s fair to say that planning is one of the most important stages of the writing process.

Without at least a general sketch of your characters or path for your plot, you’re more likely to hit a roadblock halfway through writing.

By planning ahead of time, however, you can typically avoid such an issue and have a much easier time crafting your book. 

This stage may look very different depending on whether you’re a pantser (someone who prefers letting their story develop naturally) or a plotter (someone who likes to plan out every aspect of their book).

And it’s worth noting there are pros and cons to each. 

No matter how you operate, you should put time and effort into your initial outline, allowing yourself some flexibility in terms of story structure, character development, and more. 

Once you’ve finished planning, it’s time to start writing!

Stage 3 – Drafting 

The drafting stage is all about getting your words down on paper (or screen). It’s not about trying to create the perfect book right off the bat, as you’ll work on revising and editing the initial draft later on.

If you’re a first-time writer, you may struggle with this. However, you just need to keep a couple of things in mind…

  • The first draft is for your eyes only.

  • You can always go back and make changes. 

There really aren’t any set rules about how to draft your book. It’s just a matter of completing the initial draft from start to finish.

If you find yourself faltering midway through the first chapter, try skipping to the end — whatever pushes you to move forward.  

After you’ve completed your first draft, it’s best to wait at least a few days before proceeding to the next stage. 

Stage 4 – Revising 

Many authors consider revising to be one of the most challenging stages of the writing process. 

Why?

Because it requires you to scrutinize your first draft, which can be downright painful. Essentially, you need to be your own critic and try to remain as objective as possible.

During this stage, the goal is to start cleaning up and shaping your story.

Some of the ways to do this include… 

  • Adding details your readers need to understand what’s going on

  • Rearranging passages to improve the flow or pacing of the story

  • Removing sections that don’t fit or add little value

  • Eliminating awkward sentences or language

  • Ensuring your character’s actions make sense

  • Balancing exposition and dialogue

  • Making each scene as compelling as possible 

When you’ve made all the necessary revisions and are generally happy with the draft you have, set it aside for a couple of weeks before moving on to editing.     

Stage 5 – Editing 

In the editing stage, your primary objective is to fine-tune your book. You want to ensure your writing is as smooth as possible, your story makes sense, and your text is free from errors.

Even if you edit as you go, you can still end up making mistakes and leaving things out. That’s why it’s crucial to read your manuscript in its entirety so you can fix those trouble areas.  

Although there are plenty of resources out there to help you develop your writing skills so you can self-edit more effectively, it may be worth bringing on a professional to edit your book as well.

Doing so not only puts another pair of eyes on your manuscript but also allows you to take advantage of another’s expertise. 

It may take a few drafts before you deem your book “ready,” but once you reach that point, it’s time to advance to the last stage.

Stage 6 – Publishing 

Once you’ve put the finishing touches on your book, you need to figure out how to make it available to readers.

There are a few ways to get your book published, including…

  • Taking the traditional publishing route

  • Hiring a company to publish your book

  • Submitting your book to a publisher independently

  • Opting to self-publish your book 

Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. The one you choose depends on your budget and needs.

If you decide to self-publish, bring in others to ensure your book is truly ready and avoid publishing too early.    

Takeaway

There you have it — the six stages of the writing process. If you followed along with us, you should now have a deeper understanding of what’s involved in taking a book from idea to finished product. 

Remember that the approach you take to creating a book may not look exactly like this, and that’s okay! However, familiarizing yourself with these basic stages and revisiting them every so often can make things go a lot smoother.  

(If you’ve completed the last stage of the writing process, it’s time to get your published work out to readers! Click HERE to learn more about promoting your free ebook in our newsletter to reach thousands of potential fans.)

Categories: Behind the scenes

Tagged As: Writing advice

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