This is How I Write Articles, from Start to Finish
After 10 years of trial and error, this is what works for me.
While I’ve only been writing Medium for 2 years, I’ve actually been blogging for over 10 years. In that time, I’ve changed the way I approach writing more times than I can remember!
Of course, writing is creative. And so, there’s no right or wrong answer, and it’s a never-ending journey of trial and error. But that just shows how we’re developing as a writer, and more importantly as a person.
I now find myself at a point where I’m [mostly] content with how I tackle the blogging process, and so I’d like to share that with others. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done! I hope this helps you in some way.
1. Do Nothing
The first step is to pretty much do nothing. Hear me out.
It’s extremely hard to merely sit down and decide you’re going to write about something and do just that. We’re not robots and writing is a creative process.
In order for an idea to spark in my head, I have to relax and let my mind wander. I do this by going for a walk or run, or sitting somewhere peaceful where I can watch the world go by.
Thoughts will start to wander and go off into tangents. I often have a conversation with myself head, which I great! Talking to yourself is a great way to exchange thoughts and ideas when no-one else is around.
One thought leads to another and then, just when I least expect it, boom! An idea pops into my head; one that grabs me and sparks my motivation to write!
2. Act Fast!
It’s at this moment that I must write down that idea, along with all the other information that comes along with it.
Ideas leave our heads just as quickly as they enter. If we don’t write something down as a reminder for later, that idea will likely never come back. It’s a great loss and not something we should ever want to happen.
To make this part of the process easy, I simply open a notes app and use the microphone button on my phone’s keyboard to discuss the idea out loud. This is far easier and quicker than typing out all information that rushes to my head at that moment.
I likely end up with a large paragraph of information that I can dig into later.
3. Out and About? Flesh it Out.
It’s unlikely that I’ll be in a position to write the rest of the article straight away. So until I can, I’ll keep adding points to it, as they come to mind.
I find that the more I flesh it out now, the fuller my article is later.
I’m not worried about structure and grammar. I’m only concerned with getting it on some [digital] paper. Overthinking will lead to frustration and will stop the creative flow that your new idea needs.
In fact, as I noted in the ‘Do Nothing’ section, it’s actually underthinking that’s key to the creative writing process.
4. Making Sense of the Notes
When I finally get a chance to sit down with my laptop, I copy and paste those notes into Medium. I take that clump of information and separate it into sections. This makes it far more digestible and less intimidating to work on.
Then I simply work on structuring sentences and paragraphs, in order to turn this waffle into something tangible. As I do that, new ideas will come to mind, and those will get written down and fleshed out along the way, too.
5. Refine & Publish
Now that the article has meat on its bones, I go through it and get rid of anything that sounds like I’m rambling.
I often et carried away and write far too much, waffling off-topic. So I like to go through the article and be quite critical of what doesn’t need to be in it.
Which sentences are repeating themselves? What paragraphs are redundant?
It’s after this decluttering that I feel the piece is as concise as possible, while still giving the same amount of value to the reader.
What you decide to publish is just as important as what you decide not to.
Lastly, based on what I've written, I’ll come up with a compelling title, an intriguing intro and a thought-provoking conclusion.
And now, look! Before I knew it, that humble idea I wrote down earlier has now blossomed into a lovely piece of writing that I’m proud of. There’s only one thing left to do… Publish!
While this post was quite in-depth about each step of the process, it can simply be boiled down to 3 words:
Relax, Write, Refine.
- Relax: Let your mind wander and just wait for an idea to pop up.
- Write: Jot down as much as you can straight away.
- Refine: When you get around to it, flesh out and finish the article.