The Five Phases of Creative Writing

Writing is an creative process. The core of your writing comes from the heart and your ability to communicate through the medium of words. However, there are some good concepts and ways about writing skills that can help you craft your writing in a much better way:

Type-1 and Type-2 Writing:

If you are quite new to the writing process, it will help you to distinguish between these two types of writing. This in turn, will help you in crafting a suitable content for your subject matter.

The first one, Type-1 writing could be termed as practical or precise writing. Here, you already know the subject matter of what you are going to write. For eg. suppose you are assigned the task of writing a paper on "How to use the Windows-7 Operating System". This is basically Type-1 writing, since the subject matter of your manual is universal and the way to handle this OS already exists. The only thing that matters is how you are going to present it.

Type-2 writing, on the other hand, does'nt have such exactness. An example is you are writing a new story or a novel. In this case, subject-matter will develop as you keep writing.

So, first of all, decide what type of writing you are going to do. Based on that, you will have to adjust your writing style.

The Five Phases of Crerative Writing:

Since this is not a place to do a detailed explanation on this subject, we will briefly outline the phases here:

[1] Research: This is the first phase of writing when you are in fact collecting the material for your writing. However, it is not necessary to actually undergo this phase before you start writing, since you could already be quite well versed on the subject matter. Also, in case of Type-2 writing, your imaginative skills could be much more important than research skills.

[2] Prepare: This is the phase where you decide the particulars of your writing. How would you communicate your abstractness through words, while keeping in mind the context of what is required by the particular audience of your article? To help yourself with this task you can use the following techniques:

[i] The journalist's questions: A journalist asks herself the following six questions for collecting matter for her story: Who, When Where, What, Why and How? You can ask them too to decide your story outline.

[ii] CUBE Analysis: Envisage a cube with six different sides and think about your story from these various angles. These sides are:

Take a very simple analogy, lets say you want to write an article on apples.
Try to DESCRIBE the apple - its colour, taste, odour, etc.
Then COMPARE it with other fruits like oranges and grapes.
ASSOCIATE an apple to other objects like gardens, trees, fruit-markets, agriculture, etc.
ANALYZE an apple by cutting it and studying the interiors like its core and the seeds.
APPLY the concept of apples to fruit-salads and other recipes.
Finally, ARGUE FOR AND AGAINST the various health-effects of eating an apple.

[iii] Consider the three important attributes of a writing material - Meaning, Audience and Purpose. Without these in proper place, your paper could as well be a flying aeroplane!
Always remember what goal are you accomplish by writing this paper(Purpose). To convert your reader to an ideology? To change his habits or lifestyle?
Keeping in mind the background and cultural preferences of your average reader (Audience), will help you craft the crux of your paper (Meaning) in a manner that is quite relevant to the reader's needs and satisfaction.

[3] Incubation: Allow ideas to incubate or gestate. Don't directly jump on to start the actual writing. This is the phase where you sleep over the material you have already prepared. But for this, you should have already planned your writing in such a way so as to allow yourself the luxury of incubation time. Always keep this phase in mind while estimating your deadline. You usually get very good insights from your subconscious mind during this phase. Always make notes and outlines as soon as you get these ideas. Lot of good thoughts, that might have otherwise led to creative enterprises, are just lost in the whirlwinds of mind just because they were not captured on paper at the right time.

[4] Write: These is where you start the actual writing. Since you have done the hard-work in the earlier phases, you should'nt have any difficulty in starting this process. Don't rush though, write at your natural speed.
Take care of the content-structure: How you introduce, present your ideas and finally conclude keeping in mind your meaning, purpose and audience.
Also, keep in mind the elements of style while writing. A paragraph should not be too long or short. The matter in a paragraph should flow in one directions and not confuse the readers. Use transition words and phrases like "Although", "Nevetheless", "In spite of" as you try to present your ideas to keep the integrity of your paragraph

[5] Revise, Edit and Proof-read: Here it will help you to distinguish between the concepts of Revision, Editing and Proof-Reading. While revising, don't confuse yourself by paying attention to spelling-mistakes, sentence-construction and such trivial details. Here you are changing the broader message of the paper.
Once you complete that, you then start with editing the paper. Here the spelling mistakes and other minute writing elements are taken care of.
The final stage of proof-reading, is not actually required in today's age of sophisticated word-processors. This was used in the good old days when authors to submit their hand-written papers to publishers, and then used to proof-read the printed copies to see if everything was ok and there were no printing mistakes.

Practice... Practice... Practice

The great novelist Stephen King has said "It (writing) is very much like wieight lifting. If you can work out fifteen minutes a day for the next ten years, you will have fantastic muscles. If you write an hour and a half a day for the next ten years, you will be a good writer". Like all other things in life, practice helps you to improvise and let your latent creativity to come to paper easily. Keep writing regularly. Thats the best thing you can do to improve your writing skills.

For more information on improvising your writing skills refer to The Scott Foresman Handbook for Writers

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