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Writing

How to Develop a Productive Writing Process

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 9, 2020 • 5 min read

As a novice writer, developing a writing process can be a daunting task. It can be hard to know what sort of routine or system to develop when you don’t have much experience under your belt. The good news is, developing a writing system is a straightforward process that will improve your writing and help increase your creative output.

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4 Ways a Writing Process Can Improve Your Writing

There are many ways in which a writing system can improve your writing. Some of the primary benefits of using a writing process include:

  1. A writing process provides a predictable routine. The first step to developing a writing system is to set a daily routine. Developing a healthy routine will improve your creative writing by getting you into the habit of writing consistently.
  2. A writing process enables you to develop confidence. A writing system can help you build confidence in your creative writing and help you focus on the big picture. Even if you’ve come up with a fantastic book idea, sitting down to face the blank page is always a daunting task. A writing system can help you develop real-world writing tools and build confidence in your abilities.
  3. A writing process helps you overcome writer’s block. Even if you’ve just written a New York Times bestseller, writer’s block is still something you have to contend with. Full-time writers use a set writing process in order to have a consistent practice that helps them avoid procrastination and deal proactively with writer’s block.
  4. A writing process breaks up your work into attainable steps. Part of being a better writer is having a step-by-step system that you’ve developed and trust. Good writing takes practice and writers spend years developing a writing system that works for them. Take the time to develop your writing skills and experiment with writing systems to see what fits your personal style.

9 Tips to Develop a Productive Writing Process

Creating a writing process that works for you takes time. Just as you can’t expect to publish multiple bestselling books right out of the gate, you can’t expect to have a fully formed, perfect writing routine without experimenting and finding out what works for you. Some important steps to incorporate into your routine include:

  1. Gather material. Regardless of what you are writing, you should always be exposing yourself to things that will help you generate new material. Whether you are reading new books or browsing the Internet looking for interesting source material, a writer should always be gathering material. This process is a proactive search for topics you would like to write about. Additionally, you should be reading authors who inspire you. You’ll be surprised how much your own writing improves when you’re seeking out books that are worth reading. You may notice yourself starting to incorporate literary techniques that you’ve picked up through osmosis.
  2. Keep a journal. You should always have a journal handy to record thoughts or to brainstorm if you have a free moment. Writing shouldn’t be restricted to the hours you’re actively working on your current draft. As a writer you need to have writing tools, like a pen and paper or laptop, handy for whenever inspiration strikes. Practice freewriting in your spare time and record thoughts and observations that you think you could further develop into a longer written piece. Learn more about journaling in our complete guide here.
  3. Read books on writing. There are many great writing books that you can seek out in order to develop your skills and become a successful writer. Many great authors like Stephen King and Anne Lamott, have written non-fiction books laying out their personal writing tips and guides to their writing style. Keeping reference books like The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and a thesaurus on hand can be useful as well. You might want to consider listening to a writing podcast or finding a local writing center to find new books and seek out further advice.
  4. Choose a writing location. Having a set location where you do your writing can be very useful in developing a consistent routine. This could be a designated room or writing space in your home, or your favorite coffee shop.
  5. Set a writing time and have limits. It’s important to establish a writing time for yourself and to have time limits that you honor in order to keep your routine. An important part of your writing process is having a designated time when you sit down and start writing—and that you adhere to whether you feel motivated or not. The important thing is that you fill that time with work so that you can spend the rest of your day doing whatever else you have to do.
  6. Do your homework. The prewriting stage is a vital part of any written piece. If you were writing a research paper, you would obviously never dive in without carefully researching your topic, developing a thesis statement, and outlining your final draft. The same is true of other types of writing, even if their forms aren’t as rigid. Do your research and outlining, and set aside adequate time for prewriting before you dive in to your first rough draft.
  7. Give yourself writing assignments. Most of us haven’t had daily homework since high school, but assigning yourself tasks can be a great way to fine-tune your writing. Play around with sentence structure, point of view, and word choice by developing assignments that force you to experiment and practice different parts of writing. If you feel that you need some outside guidance or structure, there are many great writing courses you can seek out to further develop your craft.
  8. Keep editing. The last step of your writing process should always be proofreading and editing. Never stop after the first draft. If you want to write better, it’s vital that you spend time rewriting your work and making small adjustments to improve your piece.
  9. Sell your work. Once you have a polished piece of writing, it’s time to get it published. If you’re a first-time author, learning how to write a book proposal or finding a literary agent can be intimidating. There are many resources out there to take the guesswork out of the process and help you get your piece of writing published. Remember that every bestselling author was an amateur at one point. The writing process is hard work and the publishing stage is no exception.
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