The Writing Process – Self Publishing Case Study

How do you write? Last week, I shared my planning process for the ebook I’m updating. This week, I’d like to talk about the writing process. As I was writing this, I saw a post on Google+ from Chris Brogan that shared his writing frame (also check out his post on book structure). Mine was also pretty similar. But should you always use a writing frame or should you just free wheel? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but here’s how I do it.

Writing by Freewheeling

Do you ever have those moments where you have a burning idea or flash of inspiration that you just can’t wait to write down? When that happens to me, I get a piece of paper and a pen (if it’s night-time) or go to my computer and type or dictate as fast as I can. That’s because I don’t want to disturb the spark and perhaps lose it forever.

On the plus side, this approach usually results in some creative turns of phrase and interesting reader, but the down side is that it’s totally unstructured. Whipping the product of a freewheeling exercise into shape can be a nightmare. While the original writing process is quick, the editing process takes a long, long time. That’s sometimes OK for personal writing projects, but it’s not the best approach for everything.

Using A Frame for Writing

I write a lot. It’s mostly non-fiction comprising blog posts, articles and ebooks for clients, with a bit of my own stuff thrown in. To streamline the process, I use a frame. This is my frame for blog posts and articles, but it also works well for crafting ebook sections:

1. Title
2. Intro or Question
3. Subhead about 1st point
4. Point 1
5. Subhead about 2nd point
6. Point 2 (and so on for as many points as you want to make)
7. Conclusion – making sure the question in the intro has been answered.
8. Look for a photo

The plan I created last week for my ebook works on the same basis. If I use the plan, it will guide me on the areas I want to cover and, depending on how many sub-sub-areas I set out, keep me focused on the specifics of each section. That perhaps means less creativity, but in return I get a better structure. It’s a trade-off which mostly works well for me.

What About Writing Research?

Whether you’re writing a new book or updating an old one, you’re going to have to do some research at some point. Even if you’re a subject expert, there’ll be names and dates to check and links to gather. When should you do this? Check back next time and I’ll share my process.

Image courtesy of Ambling Sheep

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Sharon Hurley Hall

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About Sharon.H

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website or Google+.

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13 Responses to “The Writing Process – Self Publishing Case Study”

  1. I ALWAYS write down the quick outlines before getting to the writing part, myself. Most of the times I actually make a mindmap and illustrate to myself the sort of hierarchy of topics I want. This is a great way to eliminate writer’s blocks, if you ask me. You just can’t get stuck while writing if you already know what exactly you’re gonna talk about in which section.

    Thanks for your guidelines. Being a beginner, I found them quite useful!
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  2. From Archives: : The Writing Process – Self Publishing Case Study #selfpublishing #amwriting

  3. I love it. The best way to get anywhere is to follow a map. This is very helpful.
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  4. I have been writing articles for a long time and for me, this is not an easy job. You have to come up with your own idea and you have to make sure that the content is informative and interesting. But if you are already familiar with the guidelines on how to make a good and reliable article, then you will be able to come up with lots of new and fresh ideas which you can share in public.
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  5. Personally, I prefer freewheeling – but I usually already have some sense of what I want to say in my head. The problem is that sometimes my thoughts get too complicated, and I end up with a mess. Then I do need to put together some sort of structure and try to get organized.

  6. I know that there are a couple of different articles to be written like press release, ebook, and copy writing can I use this principles on them too?
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  7. Sharon, you are absolutely right! It is adaptable!
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  8. Can I also use this principles when rewriting? I seldom write a new article frequently I will just search a good article and rewrite it to be unique and add some more ideas on it.
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  9. You have good point! This is really a wonderful advice to consider regarding writing.
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  10. I love writing, but hate to use pen or keyboard, if you know what I mean. No luck with any speech to text software either. So I have basically two ways figured out, selected spontaneously, as the situation demands.
    I write based on the idea (or the title), so I either let the idea incubate for a while – so to speak, or start writing instantaneously (like this comment). Then, based on the gravity of the situation, I revise my draft(s) up to six times. If I am satisfied, that’s it, othervise the revision continues the next day. My writting depends a lot on research, so generally google is my constant companion.
    Probably not the best of approaches, but things get done!

    Hope that makes sense. Nice article by the way, Sharon.


  11. I think it’s adaptable, Renee. For fiction, a good writing frame could be similar to the Save the Cat screenwriting formula, which gives a lot of pointers on injecting pace and interest.

  12. Nice post, thanks. I mostly write fiction and I don’t outline, but that leaves me more editing as I go (or at the end). I like the frame idea.

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