If you’re a fledgling writer, or perhaps a non-writer looking to make the leap into our crazy world, you may have some questions about the writing process. Where do I start? Do I need a permit?
In recognition of these harrowing questions facing new writers, I’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to the writing process. Follow these to the tee, and you, my friend, will enjoy crippling self-doubt, unhealthy attachments to characters, and fabulous days of writing five thousand words in twelve hours before collapsing into a pile of notebooks.
This is the life.
Step 1: Select your writing utensil.
Your pen is your weapon. It will guide you through battle. Choose wisely.
Step 2: Brainstorm a brilliant idea.
These things don’t just happen. You’ve got to work for that stellar idea. I don’t care if you have to tug on that lampshade until your hand falls off.
Step 3: Pick a format and genre.
You have all the options, here. Fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction. Poetry, prose, experimental. Literary, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, drama. And oh god, the sub-genres. The hybrids. No pressure, though. It’s not like choosing the wrong format for your concept will completely ruin the piece. Oh wait…
Step 4: Write the dang thing!
You know what you’re doing, now (at least that’s what you tell yourself as you stare at the blank page). Time to fill that thing up. Write as many words as you have in you. Write until the words begin to look like hieroglyphics. Eventually your characters will start doing crazy things. When your protagonist turns into Craig Ferguson, you know it’s time to stop.
Step 5: Edit the dang thing!
Chances are good that your first draft sucked. Don’t worry, that’s supposed to happen! Now it’s time to sift through every plot hole, every useless paragraph, and every godforsaken typo. Fix them until the thing looks fixed.
Step 6: Observe your accomplishment.
Take a moment to step back and look at what you have created. You. With your bare hands and giant head full of knowledge. You have written something. And it’s coherent.
Step 7: Send your baby into the world.
Don’t let your pride and joy waste away in your drawer. Submit that wonderful literary creation! Magazines, journals, publishers, agents. Send it out, and revel in its beauty.
Step 8: Face the rejection.
Stand tall. Be strong. No, I’m not crying. You’re crying.
Step 9: Celebrate your acceptance!
You did it! Your writing was accepted into Awesomesauce Publication. Give yourself a pat on the back, a round of applause, and a giant slice of chocolate cake.
Step 10: Do it all again.
Take a well-deserved nap, but don’t worry, your characters won’t let you rest long. A writer’s work is never finished. Have a cup of coffee (or twelve) and do it all again.
Congratulations! You are now a full-fledged member of Writer Town. We’re not sure what the population is—that requires math—but the library has a spiral staircase and stained glass. Enjoy yourself!