The Creative Writing Process

When we first learn about creative writing, we are taught one path to follow as the creative process:

  • Brainstorm/Research
  • Outline
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Revise

The exact wording of this list varies depending on where you were taught, but the bones of the list is inherently taught. For young writers, this is a good list as a place to start. The list gives them the structure and direction on how to get from point A (what do you want to write about?) to point Z (a finished story).

However, as we grow our creative writing skill, we eventually find that we don’t fit the mold we were taught as children. We have become, ourselves, a unique writer. One who blazes their own path forward in delivering stories. It’s a personalized approach that evolves as we become more seasoned.

You could be a plotter. You could be a pantser. You could be one who writes inspiration from a dream and only during the editing phase, figure out what the story is about. You could be someone who writes the ending first then goes back to figure out how to get to that end. You could be a mid-prose editor, who writes a chapter then edits versus editing when you have your story fully written. You could be someone whose process is what they were first taught.

There is nothing wrong with any of these processes. You are developing YOUR story through YOUR own creative writing process. There is no “one size fits all” process because we are individuals and our brains are wired differently.

How do you find the best writing process for you?

The only sage advice I can give is to experiment and find what feels right. Up until a few years ago, I was a pantser for all forms of creative writing. “Sit down and go” was my motto. Today, I am a psudo-plotter. What I mean by that is I write the ending first then write an outline starting from the beginning. Having my ending defined helps me build the plot and characters that will get the reader to that end. I am sure in another few years as my writing skill evolves, my process will morph into something new.

Thus, dear reader, I cannot give you any secrets to unlocking what your writing process because there is no grand secret. You have go out there and write! Your process will develop on its own to what feels most natural for you. Expect it to evolve over time as you grow as a seasoned writer and don’t worry if you notice that you have a different process for different story types. Your writing process for novels may look very different from your writing process for short stories.

What is your writing process? Have you seen your writing process change over the years? Do you have different writing processes for short stories, novels, poetry, et cetera?

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