The generation of great writing does not happen accidentally. All great writing is generated from the writer’s method, whether it’s unspoken or clearly articulated. For our purposes here, a method of writing can be defined as a series of distinct steps that a writer takes to generate a great article.
A method that’s practical allows you to take an idea and turn that idea into a great article. Knowing what steps you need to take in order to turn your idea into an article will make the process a lot less difficult. These are the steps that you should take to give yourself the best chance of generating a great article.
The 10 Steps
- Conceive an Idea
- Define its Purpose
- Create an Outline
- Write a Draft
- Edit the Draft
- Peer Review the Draft
- Revise Based on Suggestions
- Final Peer Review
- Format the Article
- Publish the Article
Step 1: Conceive an Idea
Conceiving an idea is the first step to writing a great article. If you don’t know what you’re going to write about, how can you begin?
When you're working as a team, conceiving an idea involves having collaborative conversations about what is going to be written, as well as thinking independently about potential writing topics. Each person on the team will have different thoughts about the idea that your article will be based on, so it's important for the people on your team to express their informed perspectives.
Some of the thoughts won't be used to flesh out the idea that the article will be written about, but even these unimplemented thoughts are important. Although many of the thoughts that are discussed will be used in your article, it’s equally beneficial to know what you’re not writing about and to know what you are writing about, before you even begin to write.
What you’re trying to do during this stage is unify everyone's thoughts around one single idea. That one idea is what the article will be about.
Step 2: Define its Purpose
At this stage, you know what idea you’re going to write about, but it isn’t clear why you’re writing about it. Are you attempting to teach people? Are you writing instructions? Are you sharing an opinion about a topic? Are you advising people in your area of expertise? Is your primary goal to inspire people? Are you self-marketing? Are you presenting research? Are you sharing testimony?
Defining the purpose of your article is crucial to stylistically aligning that purpose with the idea you'll be writing about. Your purpose for writing an article will determine what is said, and it will also determine how the article looks.
For example, an article that's only meant to teach people is going to look much different than an article that's only meant to share an informed opinion about a topic. People can learn from each of these, but because their purposes differ, the information on the page will be delivered in a distinct way that best fits that unique purpose.
Step 3: Create an Outline
Whereas conceiving an idea for an article and defining its purpose provides a conceptual framework to work within, creating an outline provides a physical structure to work within.
The outline of an article will determine the paragraph, heading, and subheading placements within the body of the article. These items can be filled with placeholder examples of what could be written there, and then filled in more thoroughly when drafting begins.
Creating an outline will also help determine the amount of sentences that each paragraph will have. Once the outline is completed, it should be clear how much information will go into the article, and from that, how much work it will take to write it.
Step 4: Write a Draft
Now that you have a concept, a purpose, and an outline, writing will be very straightforward. It may become tedious, but the difficult part is far behind you once you’ve gotten to this part, if you can write well. 😉
Writing within the conceptual frame of the article’s idea and purpose, you can now begin filling in your outline. In this stage of the writing process, it's okay if you make a few grammatical and spelling errors. The article will be reviewed many times before it's finalized and then published.
To complete a draft, every section should be filled with original content to the best of the writer's ability. Though it will be reviewed, even a first draft should be written as though it is going to be submitted for publication.
Pro Tip: Do Not Self-Edit or Self-Censor
As you're writing the first draft, don’t edit or censor what lands on the page. The purpose of writing the first draft is simply to get the words out that will roughly form the initial stages of a finished article. It is a helpless infant now 👶🏼, but in time, and with care, your article will reach maturity. This draft will eventually be polished, re-ordered in places, and edited to perfection, but only after it is completely written.
Step 5: Edit the Draft
Once a complete draft has been written, you can go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Look for errors in spelling, sentence structure, grammar, and word choice. After you’ve generated a complete draft, you’ll want to proofread as though you're creating your best work. Edit at this stage until you think that your draft has been perfected, and then submit it to be peer reviewed.
Step 6: Peer Review the Draft
Peer review of a draft scrutinizes elements like structure and clarity. Additionally, things like word choice will come under fire at this stage of the writing process. Sometimes too much is said, and a paragraph or a sentence might need to be omitted; sometimes too little is said, and a paragraph or a sentence might need to be added.
In addition to that, there are times when you will say just enough, but you won't say it clearly. A big part of peer review is rewording what you've already written in order to make it more comprehensible to a potential reader.
Lastly, there is word choice. All words carry with them connotations that uniquely shape the atmosphere of a piece of writing, and although words might share very similar literal meanings, their connotations are not equal. Not all words are appropriate to use in every article, and you will discover this during peer review.
Step 7: Revise Based on Suggestions
Now that you've received feedback from your team, it's time to integrate that feedback into your writing. This step is very similar to “Step 5: Edit the Draft,” except this time you're editing based on the scrutiny of others, rather than scrutinizing your work yourself.
You do not need to accept all of the suggestions you’ve been given. If you disagree with what’s been suggested, you should say so, but you should do it persuasively. However, only reject sincerely made suggestions very cautiously. The people reviewing your work often notice flaws in it that you can’t see.
Once you’ve negotiated the suggestions you received and you’ve re-worked your writing, it's time to submit it for a final peer review.
Step 8: Final Peer Review
If you've taken editing seriously, then the final peer review will resound with your team members saying "yes" to your work.
Small, precise adjustments might be made here, and final grammatical errors might be corrected, for example, but the final peer review will ideally be quick and pain-free.
After the content of your article is perfected as much as it can be, it’s ready to be formatted for publication.
Step 9: Format the Article
Format your article so that it’s easy and enjoyable to read. People underestimate how the psychology of font size, color, line spacing, and kerning affects how people will read what you’ve written.
Use headings and subheadings to make your article scannable. Using bulleted or numbered lists will break up paragraphs and make your article easily scannable. 🔎
People often scan articles to see if their questions can quickly be answered. If you create paragraphs that aren’t scannable, people will be deterred from reading the article because they can’t easily find key information, and they’ll search for an article that has made the key points easily accessible.
Step 10: Publish the Article
You did it. Your draft reached the last stage of its journey, and it's now ready to be published. Your initial idea is fully fleshed out, and there is an audience who is ready to participate in what you’ve created.
Once your article is released into the world, it will take on a life of its own, interacting with the lives of many people whom you’ve never met, sharing with them information that they didn’t have before.
In the best conclusion of this process, the information you’ve been able to clearly express in your article will add value to the lives of the people who read it. And then, the process will start again once your next article begins.
Pro-Tip: Promote Your Article
No matter how great your article is, few people will see it if you don’t promote it. After you’ve written your article, plan to share it where your audience will see it.
If you’re looking for a business to write, publish, and promote your articles for you, hire Mammoth! Brand Studio! Give Breana a call at (248) 985-2003!