Too many people approach writing like it is final jeopardy. They feel that they only have moments to write the correct answer or risk losing thousands of dollars. The truth is much less intense.
Writing is best approached as an iterative process. That means, you should plan to draft your writing project multiple times before a final draft is submitted for review. Each iteration is an opportunity to address another important consideration in the writing process. What follows is a list of possible iterations for those times when you are feeling the dreaded “White Page Stare.” It’s the time when you feel incapable of thinking, outlining, typing, editing, and being coherent all at the same time. Often, you should just stop attempting to do all at the same time. But, in some instances, merely sitting down to work on a project overwhelms. In these cases, consider the following steps.
1. TIOAR Outline = Talk it over and record. Take out your digital voice recorder, grab a friend and talk. Allow your friend to ask any questions he/she wants to ask. Answer the questions without worrying how you sound. Just allow your thoughts to flow in the conversation. Begin with a) What’s the point of the project? Follow up with, b) What’s the outline?
2. Draft the Outline. Listen to your recording and jot down your ideas with a pencil and paper. Scribble, draw arrows, doodle, and gradually order the thoughts that come from your recording and any ideas arising while you listen and scribble. Type the finished outline into your word processor.
3. TIOAR Sections. Print out your outline and record a discussion with your friend that takes each section of your outline and asks, “What do you want to say?” Do NOT attempt to make it sound pretty or poetic. Just say what you want to say in each section. Make notes on your outline only if it does not distract you from the conversation.
4. Revise Your Outline. Listen to the recording and take notes with pencil on your printed outline. Consider how each section fits together and the concepts you expressed in the recording. The goal is to create a more robust outline that indicates points you want to make. Feel free to utilize full sentences in this revised outline. Punctuate the outline with headings, summary paragraphs, and notes describing what the reader is able to do, what they should feel, or think when reading a section.
5. Format the Writing Project. Now, translate your outline into your word processor. Type in the heading you decided upon. Use your summary paragraphs as a guide to create logical composition. For example, a summary paragraph like:
This section will discuss 3 points: point 1, point 2, and point 3. Each is important. Each will end with examples.
will yield 3 additional paragraphs making each of the 3 points. That’s logical composition.
6. Write. Complete your paragraphs for each section. Add transitions to connect thoughts. Add examples. Add illustration stories or case studies. Combine all your summary paragraphs into a conclusion.
7. Proofread. Read the paragraphs from end to beginning (backwards).
8. Peer Review. Have a friend read the project while you watch. Encourage them to ask any questions they may have. Note suggestions or changes.
9. Revise and Submit. Make the changes suggested in peer review, and you are done!