Coming Full Circle to the 10 Steps of the Writing Process

They have filled a mountain range the length of the Rocky Mountains with books on how to write a story. I cannot possibly relay to you all the best information. At best, the barest yet most marrow-crammed bones are all I can give you. These bones are the ones my OCD self had to punch out in order to keep my own self on track. These helped me, and hopefully, they won’t just help me.

typewriter-1248088_1920

  1. Brainstorm.
    Sift through all your ideas and go by instinct with the ones that seem most connected. These ideas can’t be just random ideas. They could be world building details, a theme you’d like to explore with an interesting backstory to tell it with, or perhaps, your own take on a story you would like to write differently. Start making connections and making a web.
  2. Decide.
    You could really spend forever building a story with all the coolest little plot twists, revelations, set pieces, and deep, dark character relationships that change at least a quarter of a dozen times. If that’s really all you want to do, then by all means, enjoy yourself. But if you want to write a story, you must decide on the ideas that best tell your story with the theme (point) you wish to get across. Just decide.
  3. Outline.
    You now have a collective board of ideas that you somehow want to piece together into a beautiful tapestry. Any good story centers around characters and the themes they stand for. So, find your theme. Find the anti-theme. Stick them together into the plot points (Initial Condition, Inciting Incident, Big Event, Pinch [Midpoint], Darkest Point, Lesson, Finale, and Resolution), and escalate the stakes as the story progresses.
    Outline the major events and lines of dialogue you know (at least, at this point) you want to have happen and put them in sequential order. Figure out the best and quickest battle plans for both your protagonist and antagonist and throw them at each other. There is quite a bit of information I am so excited to give you, but digression would inherently follow.
  4. Draft.
    As you outline, fill in the gaps of the story with all the stepping stones between plot points and the points between the plot points. Using all the dialogue, scenes, cool ideas, and story points to craft your masterpiece, you now pretty much have a rough draft going. Wow. That was easy. The outline just… turns into your rough draft.
    No intimidating, towering Chapter One pages staring you out of town. Just slowly building up your outline until one day, you just wake and find a rough draft in progress before your very eyes.
  5. Edit a few times. This part’s tough.
    Now, the next step, most people would say, is to just let your draft sit for a few months, even weeks. But think about the grammatical, spelling, messed up mess you’re coming back to a few months later. My advice? Fix all the grammar, spelling, and “how, in the name of Pete, did I write that into this masterpiece?” parts of your rough draft. Make sure it’s as pretty as possible without getting too deep into it. Then… the hard part.
  6. Let simmer.
    Go live your life and work out some other story ideas you had (if you had any of those). Spend more time with your family. Go to a ballgame. Read, instead of write, for a change. Do something and don’t think about your draft. A good way to not think about something, is not think to not think about it. Just focus entirely on something else. Don’t tell yourself why you’re focusing on something else and not focusing on your writing. Your writing, at this point, is none of your business.
  7. Return to your draft after your set period of time, read, and mark any changes you’d like to make as you go.
    Nuff said. Print your rough draft out, grab your iced tea, or whatever, a highlighter, a pen (it doesn’t have to be red), and read it through using the highlighter and pen to mark anything about character, dialogue, story, anything that doesn’t make sense, anything, and everything that you deem worth marking for later attention.
    After the read, go back and apply all your corrections. This step (which it’s probably not the first nor only one to do this) will take time. Like, perhaps… months. It should be treated as fun and creative process of making your story ten times better!
  8. Read for fun. Analyze your reaction.
    Upon arriving at a seemingly satisfactory draft eight or nine, read your manuscript for the pure joy of it. And I know it’s tempting, but don’t heed the voice inside your head wanting to fix every line of dialogue and prose that just doesn’t sit right with you. Unless, of course, there is a real spelling or grammatical error, you must press on and enjoy reading what you’ve written.
  9. Edit accordingly.
    After reading, ask yourself why you did or didn’t like different parts of your manuscript. Or if you liked it at all. Analyze your reaction and edit accordingly. Hence, the number nine bullet point.
  10. Enjoy.
    You’re on your own from here.

10 Ways to Stay Active

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. Why should I be taking advice about staying active from a guy who can’t keep up with his own posting schedule? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because I’ve been giving it some thought recently.

  1. Go outside.

the-lake-district-1520596_1920

How does this help you? Let me count the ways. Never mind. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few ways and I’ll just let this article fill you on them.

And no, you don’t have to go where this picture was taken to go outside. That’s no excuse to not go outside.

2.   Drink water.

splashing-165192_1280

You’d be surprised about what sticking to water as your go-to beverage will do to you. There is too much to know about water to put it all on this page. So here’s this article instead.

3.   Breathe in and out for one minute straight.

portrait-2042894_1920.jpg

I took vision therapy for about a six-month period recently. Whenever I found myself unable to focus, I simply remembered or had to be told to breathe. And you know what? It worked. Things cleared up. I was able to see. Sometimes this whole ADHD society gets too far into our minds and puts even our breathing at bay just so we can move on to the next thing. Just breathe next time. Breathe right now.

4.   Don’t start shutting down before the 90 – 120-minute cushion before bedtime.

belgian-shepherd-dog-435944_1920

When I get home from work, the first thing my body wants to do is just find the nearest screen and scroll. But, seriously, that’s rolling the dice and going to jail on purpose. There is a time for everything, but your day could have so much more in it if you put the device down and picked your butt up.

5.   Get on your feet.

white-19387_1920

I read an article once about how sitting is the new smoking. Your body automatically starts powering down and letting up on all those bodily fluids that get you through your day. If you were on your feet enough, your productivity would boost past just being healthy by standing more often.

6.  Challenge yourself.

landscape-2082827_1920.jpg

Of course, this whole staying active thing is a challenge to begin with but these are only a few areas I am personally challenging you in. What are some more subjective ways you can challenge yourself? Or others?

7.   Do something easy.

rubiks-cube-933202_1920

I’m not talking about a video game. Compile a list of super easy to-do’s and one by one, knock ‘em dead. You’ll build momentum and you will have, hopefully, served others in the process. Which is a way better feeling than just knowing that you’re staying active. Or getting active so you say tomorrow that you’re staying active.

8.  Take the dog/s out for a walk or something.

leisure-1551705_1920.jpg

Not only when you do this will you be getting outside and getting all that Vitamin C, but you’ll be bonding more with your pet/s. Plus it compiles just about every single one of the previous ways I’ve just listed for you into one. There’s a flock of birds just waiting to get hit by this one little rock.

9.   Or just, you know, work out.

man-641691_1920

You could fill a book, a lot of books, with how working out helps you out. In ways, more than one. And they have.

10.   Stop reading this post.

bear-1383980_1920

And don’t get sucked into another one! Too many times I find myself trying to improve myself and find ways to save time and all that jazz. The one piece of advice I almost never see is the one that says to stop reading about how to save time.

 

So, until next time. This is j/LARGE.