The Secret To Becoming a Better Writer

Want to be a better writer?

Inspiration is fickle. Talent is out of our control.

What’s left? Our effort. Our actions. Those become our process.

Process is consistent and reliable. Process brings writing into the world.

What’s Your Writing Process?

That question surfaces in nearly every author interview: Tell us about your typical day. How do you write? What’s your writing process?

It’s as if we (the interviewer, the listener or reader) are waiting to hear some secret recipe that we might replicate.

It’s almost comforting when an author describes a schedule that we could not possible keep — waking early, retreating to a sun-filled office overlooking Central Park, watching the birds outside the window, and spending all day crafting a masterpiece.

Whew. We don’t have time for that. We live in the real world, and can be excused for not doing the same thing.

Process doesn’t have to be all-consuming or perfect. It only has to work for you, in the life you live today.

To become a better writer, follow a better process.

You Already Have a Process — Can You Make It Better?

Your current writing process may not be serving you as well as it could.

Think carefully about how you write. Observe yourself:

  • How much time do you spend researching or outlining before drafting?
  • What happens if you skip those phases?
  • How does the work feel when it’s rushed? When you have a lot of time? Do you delay getting started, or work up until the last moment?
  • What does it feel like when the writing is fun and fluid? What did you do to get to this state?
  • How about those days it feels like pulling teeth? Did you do something different?
  • What do you do instead of writing, when you know you should be writing?

Start answering those questions, and your unique process will begin to emerge. You’ll spot the ways that you work best, and the times that you sabotage your efforts.

Invest In Your Own Process

Look at what you’re doing, and make sense of how you operate when writing, then find ways to make it better, or stick to what works.

Yes, I know, you’d rather spend the time actually writing than examining the way that you work. Perhaps you love the burst of creativity in drafting, but get bored with outlining and research.

The effort invested in understanding, tuning, and then following your best process pays off over the long run. Borrow some of the time you currently spend searching for the perfect word or brilliant post title, and try perfecting the way you work.

Polish the prose, and you have a better piece of written work.

Polish the process, and you become a better writer.

For a complete discussion of process, see the book The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear.

Originally published at on April 25, 2017.

Author, Writing Coach: Writing about Marketing, Technology, and Writing Itself (very meta).

Author, Writing Coach: Writing about Marketing, Technology, and Writing Itself (very meta).