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 Be Creative

Now some of you might be thinking after that last post… Why is a writer posting about being active? I thought this was a writing blog. Well, I’ll tell you.

Being a writer, a creative person, has an awful lot to do with being active. Sorry to say it. But I’m not. Both at the same time. I know. Confusing. I’m not sorry because without being active, writing becomes approximately 99.99% harder.

As a writer going into the adolescence of his journey – six years and counting – I have come to the conclusion that writers before me and sometimes I myself find it tempting to do what early writers do – ask far more than enough questions about ideas and how to get them and which ones are good and all that jazz.

Want ideas? Get creative. Don’t know how? Get active. If you already know about being active (see last post), then read this post. It’s about creativity.

  1. Do something ridiculous.
    vintage-1794664_1920
    For me, whenever I do something goofy, ridiculous, or anything that falls under the thesaurus listings of those words, I find myself mentally free of being practical. To be clear, I’ll just say that I feel a whole lot more open to crazy ideas if I do something crazy myself.
  2. Do something easy.
    drawing-428383_1920
    I know my last post had this one in it as well, but it’s a beautiful web of interconnectivity. It’s just a creative and simple way to let go of the grip your left brain has on your right brain.
  3. Get away from screens.
    field-175959_1920
    Seriously. Those things kill creativity. Get real. Get moving. Get active. Seeing the beautiful interconnectivity?
  4. Play a game.
    the-strategy-1080528_1920
    Is there an element in the game that is related to an idea your rolling over in your mind? Is there a story in one of the elements of the game? Do players make moves and strategies that you aren’t expecting (most likely)? Is there a character in there? A motive? A goal?
  5. Let your mind wander.
    car-2326642_1920
    Stare out the window and just think. Think about anything. Create a mental mind map, literally, and just jump around from idea pad to idea pad. Think of ways you would change your life and turn into a story form. Or something. Go somewhere in your mind and then try to bring it back to your writing.
  6. Engage in wordless entertainment.
    painting-1081808_1920
    Being a writer, an individual of words, a communicator, can make it exhausting to have to listen to more words and the like when away from the work. No wonder a lot of us writers are introverted weirdos.
  7. Delve into your notebook of ideas and recordings.
    notebook-1840276_1920
    Assuming you already have one. Any ideas in your journal will work. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be an “idea journal” with stickers all over the outside. It can be a roll of paper towels (I tried it and for some reason, it really messes with your brain and things are easier to say on paper towels). Hey, a paper towel is still paper. Just let it all out and then let it simmer between the covers. Then come back a few weeks later and let the aromas of your life after having written all those thoughts and ideas down soak it all back up.
  8. Don’t worry about rules or getting your ideas right or make them have to make sense.
    sofa-749629_1920
    You can always, if you think you can, brainstorm the idea more and combine it with another idea and build, shape, and morph the not-so-awesome ideas into characters, plot points, settings, set-piece scenes, or whatever.
    Are you seeing that picture? The one with the sofa? The absolute ridiculousness of it? Well, it’s not ridiculous. It’s pretty funny. But it’s not ridiculous. To some, it’s not ridiculous. To others, it’s the epitome of stupid. Or to others, it’s just “cute”. Do you have any ideas like this? Perhaps in that journal of yours?
  9. Obtain ecstasy.
    wheelchair-2090900_1920

Serve others. Go out of your way to make someone’s day. The smiles and the love bring about more love and the creative juices just start flowing. Writing is creating. Creation is an act of love. So, when we spread love around in ways besides writing, it doesn’t matter how the effect turns out with the preliminary love – we still get giddy and we want to write and now we have a wonderful experience to write about. At least, that’ll get us going in the right direction if we’re stuck. Whether it be in the creative process, or an actual piece of writing.

  1. Try not to “have” or “get” ideas.
    girl-1064658_1920
    The best ideas come when you’re just driving along the road, reading the paper, waking up, clocking out of work, letting a mad customer fume at about how good of a job you’re doing, watching the dog sniff in all the air. It is in those moments, when we least expect it, that the best ideas come. Because the best ideas don’t start out as “ideas”. They start out as feelings. As emotions. As viewpoints. Don’t write a character to be funny because they gripe about their job all the time just because you can. Experience what people, places, or situations are like. Live!