Cheat-Sheets for the Writing Process:
A Daily Practice
Writing is predominantly a physical exercise and an activity that embraces a multitude of unexpected benefits and paybacks. When you make writing a daily practice, you’ll think more concisely while widening the funnel of innovative thoughts and ideas. In short: the more you write, the more creative you’ll become.
Checklist for Aspiring Writers
We can all benefit from a set of simple pointers and a little preparation to get our cherished thoughts on paper and eventually get our book sold or our essay read by a large audience. The writing experience and challenges have their own ways of rewarding the writer, psychologically, and at times economically.
“Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut
1. Does the Following Apply to You?
- Do you want to inspire your readers by sharing your work and introducing new concepts and ideas into their lives, making sure they enjoy themselves right up to the last page of your manuscript?
- Have you got this story inside you that starts to become an obsession, but you are unsure how to get it on paper, much less how to get it read, critiqued, edited, and published?
- Did you start to write a book or paper but are presently stuck because of the intimidating publishing industry and the myriad of existing books and authors already on the market?
- Are you unsure if you’ve got what it takes?
These questions and doubts are common to us all, so let’s start with some answers. With the professional help of experienced authors in our community, I will continue to try and unravel some of the mysteries while navigating through this unknown landscape to help you overcome the most common hurdles in contemporary writing.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done.
It’s that easy, and that hard.”
~ Neil Gaiman
2. You Start With
- Taking your time to research the perfect headline for your piece.
- Thinking about your book or essay and make a small synopsis in a few sentences.
- Reading up on the subject matter and doing research.
- Writing a trial chapter or first draft.
3. Your First Draft
Your first draft is not likely to be perfect. That’s fine, as a first draft serves only as a rough sketch for what is to come out of your talented brain. It is but an outline of what your work could look like.
It also helps you determine what sections need closer scrutiny in refining your piece. As it is generally a bad idea to turn in a first draft because your unprocessed piece may contain grammatical errors or a faulty sentence buildup, I advise against it.
Consider a first draft as the first and crucial step of completing your project. As a rule of thumb, your first drafts will need at least two revisions, probably more.
“If you’re using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”
~ John Steinbeck
4. Editing Checklist
The checklist below will help you address common errors writers tend to make in their first drafts. There are four types of book editing – developmental, substantive, line, and proofreading. Editing can be done by the writer or by an outside source. Oftentimes, writers find that an editing checklist is useful when correcting their own work.
THE STAGE OF EDITING
“Editing is a stage of the writing process in which a writer or editor strives to improve a draft by correcting errors and making words and sentences clearer, more precise, and as effective as possible. The process of editing involves adding, deleting, and rearranging words to cut the clutter and streamline overall structure.” ~ ThoughtCo.com
Why Do I Need an Editor?
Writing a book or paper is different for everyone. For some, it may seem like a simple task. For others, it may seem impossible. However, to create a reliable, rich piece of writing, my advice to everyone is to use excellent editing. Especially when your personal editing capabilities may not be sufficient when it comes to improving your own writing. At a certain point in time, every piece of writing should go through an edit of some kind.
Of course, you can perform a self-edit by checking your work for spelling mistakes, unclear sentences, and grammar errors. However, it can be much more valuable to ask a peer to edit your work, even if you’re an excellent editor yourself. When editing your own writing, It’s easy to overlook errors because your brain automatically fills in the blanks of what you intend to say. An editor other than yourself can help you determine when your writing doesn’t clearly express your ideas.
To get your work edited by someone else and studying the changes is a way to become a master of your craft. Moreover, many literary professionals submit that writers are incapable of editing their own work and shouldn’t even try. Why?
You’re too Close to the Work
Being a writer means you are a creative force, a superior being who builds entire worlds and crafts new universes. This also means you tend to be attached to your creations, making it increasingly hard to step back and objectively criticize your work.
5. Are You Serious about your Writing?
Then write down your answers to these questions:
- What is your motivation to write this particular book or paper?
- Do you know similar books and stories, and what do you like or dislike about them specifically? (What is the competition you are up against? – Any best-sellers among them?)
- What will make your work stand out as different and remarkable, a must-read?
- Have you figured out what the content will be in terms of the beginning, middle, and ending?
- Will your book be based on personal experience or a case study?
- Do you plan to use illustrations, mention resources, make summaries, or use expert opinions or quotations?
- Are you already using the Internet and social media to bring your stories and articles to fans’ and peers’ attention?
- Whom do you trust enough to give you honest and constructive guidance regularly?
- What options do you have available for publication? Self-publishing, print on demand, or conventional publishing using literary agents or publishers.
Once you have thoughtfully completed this exercise, you are on your way to publishing the book you always wanted to write.
Your Character’s Wheel of Emotions Cheat-Sheet
Let’s look at the various emotions your characters may go through on their journey through your story and their sentiments’ roots.
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
~ George Orwell
Please, let me have your thoughts on these pointers and Cheat-Sheets I gathered together for the Writing Process.
Thanks for reading.