Do You Know The 7 Steps Of The Writing Process?

How much do you know about the different stages of the writing process? Even if you’ve been writing for years, your understanding of the processes of writing may be limited to writing, editing, and publishing. 

It’s not your fault. Much of the writing instruction in school and online focus most heavily on those three critical steps. 

Important as they are, though, there’s more to creating a successful book than those three. And as a writer, you need to know.   

The 7 Steps of the Writing Process

Read on to familiarize yourself with the seven writing process steps most writers go through — at least to some extent. The more you know each step and its importance, the more you can do it justice before moving on to the next. 

1. Planning or Prewriting

This is probably the most fun part of the writing process. Here’s where an idea leads to a brainstorm, which leads to an outline (or something like it). 

Whether you’re a plotter, a pantser, or something in between, every writer has some idea of what they want to accomplish with their writing. This is the goal you want the final draft to meet. 

With both fiction and nonfiction, every author needs to identify two things for each writing project: 

  • Intended audience = “For whom am I writing this?”
  • Chosen purpose = “What do I want this piece of writing to accomplish?”

In other words, you start with the endpoint in mind. You look at your writing project the way your audience would. And you keep its purpose foremost at every step. 

From planning, we move to the next fun stage. 

2. Drafting (or Writing the First Draft)

There’s a reason we don’t just call this the “rough draft,” anymore. Every first draft is rough. And you’ll probably have more than one rough draft before you’re ready to publish. 

For your first draft, you’ll be freewriting your way from beginning to end, drawing from your outline, or a list of main plot points, depending on your particular process. 

To get to the finish line for this first draft, it helps to set word count goals for each day or each week and to set a deadline based on those word counts and an approximate idea of how long this writing project should be. 

Seeing that deadline on your calendar can help keep you motivated to meet your daily and weekly targets. It also helps to reserve a specific time of day for writing. 

Another useful tool is a Pomodoro timer, which you can set for 20-25 minute bursts with short breaks between them — until you reach your word count for the day. 

3. Sharing Your First Draft

Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s time to take a break from it. The next time you sit down to read through it, you’ll be more objective than you would be right after typing “The End” or logging the final word count. 

It’s also time to let others see your baby, so they can provide feedback on what they like and what isn’t working for them.

You can find willing readers in a variety of places: 

  • Social media groups for writers
  • Social media groups for readers of a particular genre
  • Your email list (if you have one)
  • Local and online writing groups and forums

This is where you’ll get a sense of whether your first draft is fulfilling its original purpose and whether it’s likely to appeal to its intended audience. 

You’ll also get some feedback on whether you use certain words too often, as well as whether your writing is clear and enjoyable to read. 

4. Evaluating Your Draft

Here’s where you do a full evaluation of your first draft, taking into account the feedback you’ve received, as well as what you’re noticing as you read through it. You’ll mark any mistakes with grammar or mechanics. 

And you’ll look for the answer to important questions: 

  • Is this piece of writing effective/ Does it fulfill its purpose?
  • Do my readers like my main character? (Fiction)
  • Does the story make sense and satisfy the reader? (Fiction)
  • Does it answer the questions presented at the beginning? (Nonfiction)
  • Is it written in a way the intended audience can understand and enjoy?

Once you’ve thoroughly evaluated your work, you can move on to the revision stage and create the next draft. 

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5. Revising Your Content

Revising and editing get mixed up a lot, but they’re not the same thing. 

With revising, you’re making changes to the content based on the feedback you’ve received and on your own evaluation of the previous draft. 

  • To correct structural problems in your book or story
  • To find loose ends and tie them up (Fiction)
  • To correct unhelpful deviations from genre norms (Fiction)
  • To add or remove content to improve flow and/or usefulness

You revise your draft to create a new one that comes closer to achieving your original goals for it. Your newest revision is your newest draft. 

If you’re hiring a professional editor for the next step, you’ll likely be doing more revision after they’ve provided their own feedback on the draft you send them. 

6. Editing

Editing is about eliminating errors in your (revised) content that can affect its accuracy, clarity, and readability.

By the time editing is done, your writing should be free of the following: 

  • Grammatical errors
  • Punctuation/mechanical and spelling errors
  • Misquoted content
  • Missing (necessary) citations and source info
  • Factual errors
  • Awkward phrasing
  • Unnecessary repetition

Good editing makes your work easier and more enjoyable to read. A well-edited book is less likely to get negative reviews titled, “Needs editing.” And when it comes to books, it’s best to go beyond self-editing and find a skilled professional. 

A competent editor will be more objective about your work and is more likely to catch mistakes you don’t see because your eyes have learned to compensate for them. 

7. Publishing Your Final Product

Here’s where you take your final draft — the final product of all the previous steps — and prepare it for publication. 

Not only will it need to be formatted (for ebook, print, and audiobook), but you’ll also need a cover that will appeal to your intended audience as much as your content will. 

Whether you budget for these things or not depends on the path you choose to publish your book: 

  • Traditional Publishing — where the publishing house provides editing, formatting, and cover design, as well as some marketing
  • Self-Publishing — where you contract with professionals and pay for editing, formatting, and cover design. 
  • Self-Publishing with a Publishing Company — where you pay the company to provide editing, formatting, and cover design using their in-house professionals.

And once your book is live and ready to buy, it’s time to make it more visible to your intended audience. Otherwise, it would fail in its purpose, too. 

Are you ready to begin 7 steps of the writing process?

Now that you’re familiar with the writing process examples in this post, how do you envision your own process?

While it should include the seven steps described here, it’ll also include personal preferences of your own — like the following: 

  • Writing music and other ambient details
  • Writing schedule
  • Word count targets and time frames

The more you learn about the finer details of the writing process, the more likely you are to create content your readers will love. And the more likely they are to find it. 

Wherever you are in the process, our goal here is to provide content that will help you make the most of it. 

7 steps of the writing process

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