Writing Process: Build Up Your Writing To Write Faster And Better

Writing Process: Build Up Your Writing To Write Faster And Better

Professional writers have a writing process. For everything. For fiction, nonfiction — there’s always a process. Beginning writers write, but pro writers build.

They start by creating the raw material. In my Top 70 Writing Tips, I called creating your raw materials making mud:

Look on all the writing you do as “making mud”. Be exuberant and messy.

You can do a lot with your mud. Just as you can build entire houses with mud bricks, you can write articles, novels, nonfiction books, short stories, essays, memoirs – in short, you can write anything and everything, if you make the basic building material, the “mud” first.

You can relax when you tell yourself that you’re just making mud

Once you realize that you’re just “making mud” when you’re writing, you stop worrying. There’s nothing serious about mud. You just write, and you know that you’ll sort out your creations later.

I’m winding up a long fiction project, and am planning a new trilogy. I’ve started creating the mud:

  • Scene locations
  • Character attributes and descriptions
  • Potential flaws for my main characters
  • And so on…

Usually I write my mud, and never look at it again. Its sole purpose is to kickstart my subconscious mind. At heart, I’m a fiction-writing pantser, but I know the plot points I have to hit, so I plan them in advance. That gives me a rough framework on which to hang my fiction.

By the way, if you’re not a fiction writer, a “pantser” is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, doing minimal plotting

This new project is a trilogy, so I’m planning the overall plot arcs… by making mud.

You need lots of materials to create anything

New authors want to write a project from go to whoa. It’s possible to do that, and sometimes you’ll manage it. However, it’s stressful.

Making mud is easier. It’s faster, too. You’ll also find that your writing inevitably improves, because you’re not insisting that your writing be perfect, at any stage.

The “mud” process is essential when you’re writing marketing materials. I explain my building-blocks process for copywriting in Copywriting for Writers. You create copy blocks, and then you put them together to write a sales page or series of advertisements, or whatever copy you’re writing.

Start a project by asking yourself what you need to create for that project

Write down the answer. “Write for this project I need”… and start thinking on paper.

Please do this.

I encourage my writing students to think on paper (or on the computer screen), because it saves time. Writers get stuck on projects because they haven’t broken down the project into tasks, and then they try to start writing immediately, without any form of pre-writing.

You can look on making mud as a form of prewriting. Essentially, it breaks your inertia, so you get moving on your projects.

Try it yourself. When making mud becomes part of your writing process, you’ll write more, and much more easily.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Writer’s Block: 5 Ways to Write Anyway

Writer's Block: 5 Ways to Write Anyway

A student asked about writer’s block. I’m tempted to say that there’s no such thing, but writers do burn out. If that happens, you’ll eventually get back on track, much wiser for the experience.

Let’s assume that your block isn’t burnout. You’ve simply lost your writer’s mojo. Here are five ways to get it back.

1. Get Input: Learn Something, or Do Something

You write, write, write… and then you stop. You have nothing to say. This happens to bloggers. It’s easy to feel that you’ve said all you have to say on a subject. You just don’t want to think about the topic again.

You need input. Learn something new. It doesn’t matter much what that something is. Anything you’re learning will kick your brain cells awake.

If you’re writing fiction, at some stage (for me it’s page 100), you’ll hit the wall. You decide your plot is ridiculous, your characters are worthless cardboard and you’d rather be dead. Break out the champagne, and have a few celebratory sips. When you hit the wall, salvation is on the other side of it. Take three days off. Refuse to think about your fiction.

Take yourself off somewhere on a short break. You’ll come back revitalized. Your subconscious works hard. It will deliver a solution, and your block will be just a memory.

2. Describe Your Pen

You don’t want to write, so you don’t. Grab a pen, or a pencil, and study it. Then describe it, in as much detail as you can. What material is it made of? Color? When did you buy it? Keep writing.

I’ve no idea why this simple description process breaks through blocks, but it does. It’s probably because after a few minutes of battering your brain about a stupid pen, any other topic sounds good to you.

3. Write a Letter (You Don’t Need to Send It)

Occasionally you’re blocked because of what you’re not saying. If you’re annoyed at someone or something, write a letter. Release your anger, or fear, or whatever it is. The letter’s just for you. Delete the computer file, or rip up the paper when you’re done.

4. Start Something New

You have things you need to write: sales material, your blog, emails… All these “musts” can dry up your creativity. Start something new. It doesn’t matter what it is.

5. Rewrite Something Old

If you’re stuck on a project, and can’t face it, here’s how to get going on it again. Rewrite it — that is, retype it.

I started writing back in the days of typewriters. I’m a horrible typist, so my typescripts always looked ridiculous, with smudges of Tipp-Ex all over the paper. I needed to retype pages often. Here’s the thing. Once you start retyping, your brain gets into the act. You’ll find yourself rewriting, and getting interested in the material. Then, just like magic, you’re writing again, and your block is gone.

Try these methods of breaking through your writer’s block. One will work for you, and you’ll be happily writing again.

If writing is challenging…

The Easy-Write Process will help. Write anytime, about anything. You’ll become a confident writer.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

5 Pain-Free Tips to Write Your Book

5 Pain-Free Tips to Write Your Book

You’ve started to write your book. Relax. Writing is fun, if you just focus on the words. You do it day by day, and word by word. You’ll be amazed at how soon all those words turn into a book.

These tips will help.

1. Stop Thinking, Start Writing — and Keep Going

You have doubts. Do you have the time to write? What if... you think. Stop thinking! A book is just a book, a collection of words. It’s no big deal. In my ghostwriting life, I write books for clients, and the writing is pain-free, because I’ve learned to ignore my doubts. You can too.

Your doubts arise from your inner editor. He usually sounds like someone in your life who told you you couldn’t do something or other. He’s not only an idiot, most of his kvetches are recordings. They play over and over, until you give up the mad idea of writing a book.

Some writers picture the inner editor, then imagine locking him inside a box, or a bottle. Don’t worry, you can’t kill him, and once you’ve got a book, he comes in handy during editing.

2. Schedule Your Writing: It’s an Appointment

Here’s the solution if you have “no time.” Schedule the time, even if it’s only 20 minutes. If you write 250 words in 20 minutes, your book will be done in eight months. A timer’s useful too.

Try this. Write your book on your phone. Writers do it for various reasons, the primary one being that your phone is non-threatening. Try Drafts.

3. Write to Yourself: You’re Just Thinking on the Screen

“Writing a book”is scary. Don’t think about it. Instead, write to yourself. Just write down whatever you’re thinking — even if you’re whining: “I’ve got no time. I need to finish the presentation and rehearse it, and if we don’t get the contract I’ll get fired. This is a stupid idea…”

I’m serious. Write your whining — the exact words. Why? Because you’ll get sick of it. Whining isn’t pretty, and when it’s in your head, it tends to play on an endless loop of worries. One of the big benefits of journaling is that it gets all that junk out of your head: it’s healthy. So is writing what you’re thinking. You’ll delete it later of course, but writing it down externalizes it, and as we’ve said, you’ll get sick of it. Which means you can write your book.

I teach this trick in my book coaching practice; it works.

4. Map It: Create Lots of Circles

Early in your writing process, you’re exploring possibilities. Try grabbing a large sheet of paper, A2 size. I like Levenger Oasis pads. Brown paper’s fine, if that’a all you can find. Now grab some marker pens, and make a largish circle in the middle. Write “my book” in the circle. Make smaller circles and ovals all over the paper. Your creative self thinks in images; this is why you’re creating all the circles.

Write words in the circles and ovals — any words which occur to you. Write first thoughts, don’t think about it. Pin the paper onto a board or to a wall.

5. Outline It as Soon as You Can

Outlining a book too early has pitfalls, the big one being that you can choke off your creativity. Your paper-with-circles helps to avoid that.

With both fiction and nonfiction, I like to write a few thousand words just to get into the book. Then I create my “circles” diagram. Shortly after that I draft a preliminary outline.

You don’t have to outline, but it helps you to see where you’re headed at a glance. If an outline makes you uncomfortable, don’t bother with it. All that counts is that you keep writing.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Improve Your Writing: The Free Content Library

Writing Genii Free Ebooks
New Writing Genii is finally relaunched, and with it, our Free Content Library. If you want to improve your writing, check it out. Currently, we have three free ebooks for you to download, with many more coming.

In the press release, I said:

Over time, Writing Genii’s Free Content Library will develop into a powerful resource for both new writers, and established writers. New writers will discover how to develop a professional career. Established writers can build skills in an area which is new to them.

Please tell me what you need

Everyone’s a writer today, so please tell me what you need. Of course we’ll have ebooks for professional writers, but there will be ebooks on creativity, developing your writing skills, productivity, and much more.

I’d love to hear what YOU want to know more about. Over the years, I’ve learned many tricks to help me to write, and enjoy writing. Believe me, I didn’t start out as a confident writer. Although I loved to read (and still do, of course) I HATED writing with a passion. it took years to get over my fear.

My perfectionism got into the way, which meant that I was the queen of procrastination. When I did sit down to write at my IBM Selectric, I wept. Seriously. I’ve no idea why I kept going with writing. Sheer masochism. So, if I got over my abject terror about writing — and endless procrastination, YOU can too. :-)

Here’s how I got over my fear of writing, in a nutshell: I focused on the words. Only on the words. A seminar with Larry Block at the Vista Hotel in New York in 1985 helped too: Larry encouraged meditation. Larry’s book of the seminar is available; check it out.

Who’s Writing Genii for?

Anyone who wants to write. Anyone who has to write. Anyone who wants to use writing to improve their business. Or write a book.

Business is all about communication. Essentially, I hope that Writing Genii will grow into a resource which will help you to communicate, even if you think you can’t write. Even if you think that, remember that I started out with tears rolling down my face. You’re not that bad, are you? ;-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.