Getting Started Writing

Planning your Writing

Planning your writing is one the most important aspects you will need to consider. The ability to write a properly constructed and interesting article or story from scratch, with minimal planning, is a rare talent; one most writers do not possess. The first objective is obviously to decide what subject you will be writing about and to decide on a working title. At this stage, the title is unimportant as it is purely a label for use while you focus on the writing itself. Many editors or subeditors will change your title anyway at publication to fit their needs.

Write down a brief summary of your idea and an initial structure that you think will be suitable. Some people like to do this graphically, like an organisation chart, but textual is equally as effective. Whichever one suits you best is the one you should use. Again, this can be changed later as you start getting the detail written. This approach works equally well for both creative writing and technical writing.

Now, looking at your planned structure and summary, you should be able to decide what research is required, if any, to back up your writing. Make a list of all the facts or elements of the story or article that you will want to research. This list can grow as time goes on. You won’t know what the full list is at the beginning. If the subject is one that you know well, this may be a very short list. This will help you decide which parts of the work are feasible and which parts are not, in terms of being able to get information to assist you. You will probably now want to revisit your summary and restructure your article bearing some of this mind.

If you are a technical writer, you will already be familiar with this approach as structured writing and the availability of technical data upon which to base your ouput is a fundamental part of this kind of writing. You might need several attempts at this, especially in your first few assignments. You will now have a sound, structured approach to follow and assist you when you start to fill in the detail.

A further advantage of this approach is that you don’t need to write everything in order. If you have broken the article, or story, into smaller logical chunks, you can write any one of them when you have the inclination or the background research available. You will, however, have to check carefully that everything ‘fits’ together when you have finished and that there are no contradictions as a result of the approach you took.