According to best-selling author Jeff Goins, the writing process consists of three distinct activities:
Ideation (not actually writing)
Drafting (actually writing and not editing)
Editing (rewriting and cleaning up)
He says, “We get stuck and the writing process becomes difficult when we try to mix those activities together because they each require different mental models and leverage different parts of the brain.”
A while back, I taught this in my Pneuma Writers group coaching session, The Write Habit. Our daily writing activities are based around these three activities.
The goal is to break your writing into these distinct activities for each piece of thing (blog post, devotional entry, or a section of a chapter--at least 500 words or so) you write during one writing session.
For example, if you are writing a set of blog posts, your writing days will look like this:
Ideation: Come up with an idea. Jot down some thoughts about it.
Ideation: Come up with another idea for a new blog post.
Drafting: work on the idea from yesterday, writing it out in full.
Ideation: Come up with an idea for a third blog post. Jot down some thoughts about it.
Drafting: Write out the full post for the second post idea
Editing: edit the first blog post you wrote on day two. Put it on your blog and PUBLISH IT!
Ideation: Come up with an idea for a fourth blog post. Jot down some thoughts about it.
Drafting: Write out the full post for the third post idea
Editing: edit the second blog post you wrote on day two. Put it on your blog and PUBLISH IT!
You get the idea?
This is the three-part writing system that helps keep you in line. You will not write as bold and strong as you need to if you are always stopping to edit or always entertaining a new idea when you should be only editing , cleaning up, or refining what you've already written. Save the new ideas for another session or you will find yourself having trouble finishing projects you start. Writer’s block in the form of discouragement could also set in as you are not giving yourself the satisfaction that comes with completion.
How to Keep Track of Your Ideas
To keep track of your ideas, I recommend keeping a running list in a file, app, or journal, so you know you always have something to work on when you sit down to write.
I use Evernote to track my ideas. There’s also a Bear app, Notes app, and other idea trackers. You may want to use a spreadsheet or Word doc. You could even use a journal. I do caution that with a journal you will need to not lose it, first of all. Also, when you are ready to pull the ideas into a book or onto your blog, you will need to transcribe them into a digital document for easy editing and publishing. This could become a bit cumbersome. But for some writers, the only way ideas flow is when the ink can flow on real paper. I so get that.
Whatever method you find—and you may have to experiment with a few—will help you and give you easy access to your ideas will work.
How Daily Writing Prompts Help
I also provide a new set of daily writing prompts every month here on my blog. Make them part of your practice.
My hope is that when you entertain my ideas, yours will be stirred. When you write to my writing prompts, you will go back and edit what you've written and use your blog or Facebook or IG timeline to share your thoughts with the world.
And there is no reason why they cannot be the beginnings of what can be arranged nicely into a book. There are lots of blogs that have filled out the pages of published books.
So what do you think? Could this new way of approaching your writing practice work for you? If you’ve already been using a similar method, how is it helping you?