The process of plotting an article

File:2004-02-29 Ball point pen writing.jpg

I don’t think writers talk much about our processes. Despite being craftsmen and women of the Word, when it comes to how we shape the word, it’s often a visual and silent process, once which does not necessarily come across the page – or screen – in a way coherent to anyone but ourselves.

All the same, I thought I’d give sharing my process a try. Mine comes from an amalgam of corraling my stream of consciousness and elementary school techniques for outlining reports. This may also include the occasional post-it or mind-mapping technique.

When I take on an article, I first spend some time defining the parameters – what exactly do I need to cover? How many words do I need to cover it in?

Then I write out a rough draft – it’s very stream of consciousness. This is how I get all the crap out of my head, and sometimes find information I’ve buried that might be worth sharing in the article. This is the point where I write the article conclusion – I write a stronger piece when I know how I’m going to end. Also, conclusions are my writing weakness, if you might notice from how I tend to stop dead in blog posts.

After I write the rough draft, I write an outline. (I’ve tried writing one before doing a draft – for me, it doesn’t work.) This gives me a list I can look at where I know what can be cut, where I’m blathering on too long and where I need to stretch a few things out.

When the outline is finished, I do a second article draft. This gets read 2-3 times by me – and then I try to get someone else to look over it, and if possible I take it to a workshop.

I make any changes that make sense to me from workshop suggestions. I do another draft – by the fifth draft, I usually decide I’m finished and send it in to my publisher.

So that’s the process I’m hoping to apply this month. If you see a post that says “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!” you’ll know what happened.