When I was finishing my master’s program, I was intrigued with the process of writing. I had done a lot of reading and conducted a lot of research to understand how thoughts get from the brain onto paper.
I was especially curious about the writing process because everything I read about it made it sound so painful. This was true for people who wrote fiction, nonfiction and just plain everyday business writing.
Some writers said the writing process was like cutting a vein open and letting it bleed onto the paper. Another compared it to being eaten by a lion. Someone said when the writing process was blocked, it felt like hitting a mountain going 500 mph.
The more I read about the writing process, the more I wanted to know about it. And the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to share that information with other writers.
Here’s what I discovered:
If you always write in the same way, you’ll always get the same results.
That means if you’re happy with the results of your business writing–for example, it doesn’t take 20 minutes to compose a simple email and you always get the results you want–then you probably don’t need to change anything in your writing process.
However, if you struggle to organize your ideas and write them down in a clear and concise way or if others are always asking you to explain what you just wrote, something needs to change in your writing process to get a better result.
Maybe your business writing process is that you just sit down and start typing, but some important ideas are left out. For someone else it may take a painfully long time to even get started. Others may not have a problem getting their thoughts on paper, but find it’s impossible to get their writing to flow.
Each of those challenges has its roots somewhere deep in the writing process: not enough planning, drafting, or revising.
Many times on-the-job writers are shocked when I suggest 50 percent of their writing time should be spent planning before they start to write. I also suggest that 15 percent of the writing time should be spent quickly writing a rough draft. The remaining 35 percent of time should be spent on revising.
Separating the writing process into these three steps and spending enough time in each step will help soothe some of the symptoms of painful writing.