Most processes follow a set pattern of steps. They can be laid out from start to finish in an orderly fashion. The writing process isn’t like other processes. You can consider it the exception to the orderly rule of step-by-step routines.
By definition the writing process are the steps a writer takes to create a written work. You might have been exposed to this in essay writing. Fiction and manuscript writing however, tend to toss a lot of the structure out of the window.
Every writer will approach writing differently. Even then, your process may end up changing a little from story to story. There’s no right or wrong answer on how to get the ideas in your head onto the page. So, what actually goes into the writing process?
The backend: Specifically for fiction writing, your backend writing includes ideas and inspirational bits. For some of us, this also includes research notes, outlines and anything that helps develop the story outside of the manuscript itself. You can think of this as your catch-all bucket for things that are related to the story, but don’t necessarily have a place on the final pages.
Drafting: There’s no possible way to write the book without having a document of the story itself. This includes the rough drafts no one but you will ever see. Some writers well spend ages in the drafting process. Others might spend less time in drafting and more time in other parts of the process.
Editing: This is where it gets a little murky on the differences between the parts of the process. A lot of time, editing is using the things created on the backend—outlines, research notes, worldbuilding ideas—to revise and polish the draft. In some cases, this leads to entirely rewriting or redrafting segments of the manuscript. It can also lead to redoing the backend items themselves if you find a note or idea just isn’t working for the story.
The most important thing to remember about the writing process is that there is no specific order. The only hard and fast rule is that you can’t edit what you don’t have drafted—and even that could be argued. Some writers can successfully edit earlier chapters or scenes while still drafting later ones.
Regardless of how you approach writing, there isn’t a set order that you have to follow. One writer may find it easier to start with an outline. Another might find they only need a brief note on themes or character. Still another might end up with thousands of words before they think about outlines, worldbuilding or anything else. None of these are wrong.
What does your writing process look like? Let me know in the comments below!