I love free-writing.

It’s a great way to generate ideas and, as one of my professors used to say, stretch your writing muscles. This is how I used to write all of my blog posts. But, not anymore.

Over the last few months I’ve begun working my way out of a blogging hiatus and I’ve focused on a more  planning-oriented writing process.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve begun to understand just how important planning is. It helps you focus your idea, determine what research you may need to do, figure out a structure, and even inform style.

My recent blog-writing process has five steps.

1. Key idea
2. Map
3. Draft
4. Type and revise
5. Edit and preview

Key Idea

I start with the topic I want to write on. Usually, I have a bit of a list going in my little blog notebook. My key ideas often come from a book I’m currently reading or have recently finished, a topic I’ve seen on Twitter or other blogs, or an issue that I’m seeing a writer I’m editing struggle with.

Map

Next, I create a short bulleted list of the subsections of my blog post. I ask myself lots of questions like, what aspects of my key idea do I want to touch on, what does my reader need to know, how can I make this useful. Often, this little map ends up right next to the item on my key-idea list.

Draft

I’ve previously posted about how writing by hand often helps my creativity. I find an important process is listing, mapping, and drafting my ideas with pen and paper. I nearly always write the first draft of a blog post in my little notebook. When it has been written and has had a few days to sit, then I move on to my next step.

Type and Revise

By writing my first draft with pen and paper, I force myself to do multiple edits on my post. Before I can edit it, I need to type the handwritten first draft into a word processor like MS Word. By typing I’m able to see holes in my sentences and the post’s flow. As I type, I fix these sentences and paragraphs. Draft two is now complete.

After I’ve rewritten it as I type, I read it aloud to myself. Over and over and over again. I slowly go through the piece of writing and tweak and revise sentence structure, word choice, even the overall post structure. Draft 3 is now complete.

Edit and Preview

Once I’ve revised the post in Word, I copy it into my blog editor and go through it again, fixing any other issues that I find. Then I read through the post, add photos and links where needed, and preview it. Previewing allows me to see the final product before I publish, and hopefully, catch any last errors or typos.

I’ve been following this new process for a few months and it seems to be working fairly well for me. Sitting down at my computer to work isn’t nearly as intimidating as it used to be because I know my first step is to revise something that is already written, rather than having to come up with something new on the spot.

What writing processes work for you?

Are you a planner or a free-writer, or a combination of both?

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