Today we were given an activity meant to develop our approach to writing. It was intended to be done individually, so for this activity I chose to solve it a little bit different than the previous ones. Instead of doing it “by the book” and following every step – I am going to take a look at the larger picture and use my own previous experience as a foundation for a better reflective outcome.
In total, the assignment says that we should choose a preferred writing style out of three different options.
- Start from the beginning with a blank document, then write everything in order.
- Create an overall plan and only then start writing the actual text from the beginning.
- Start writing from the middle.
I would consider all these options as “beginner”-level writing methods. That does not make them bad in any way, just impractical in real life writing. I have over time developed my own style of writing based on inspiration partly from the three techniques in this assignment.
I have been a writer, both for commercial and publicised platforms, for almost 12 years. In that time I have written chronicles for one of the biggest newspaper in Norway (Dagbladet), been an investigative journalist for a magazine (ALFA) – and written commercial text for hundreds of SMB-market companies in Norway.
In this time, I have tried all the three difference writing skills. Depending on what type of article I will be writing – I will adjust the writing style accordingly. Since the most difficult article to write is a publicised article like a chronicle – I will use that as an example as to how I would start and finish writing a text.
Whenever I start writing an article (chronicle) I start with the working title and ingress. Normally this will set the objective of the article – type of guidelines. These can change as the article evolves, but you need a starting ground for the idea of the article. Next I do a list of points or sectional topics I wish to address, and what the general flow of the article will be. Here I can insert my ideas and a common thread. Out of this list I also create a sidelined story. This will not be the story itself (which would be the actual article) but a kind of “metadata” on the flow and feel of the article. For example, what kind of plot will I be using to enhance the point I am trying to make – in order for the reader to alter his/hers opinions and follow my points of view?
Once I have those two elements sketched out – I will start from the beginning of the article. Normally I will do at least 2 or 3 paragraphs before I start thinking about and writing paragraphs for the middle and ending. But once I start on the middle – I normally call that “creative process”. That is because ideas and paragraphs starts flying out once the groundwork is done and I can let my mind wander about the topic. It does not have to be coherent at this point – it just needs to be somewhat in the area of what I am trying to say. For this I will be using the first element a lot. Once I have 10-15 paragraphs of both beginning and middle – and also maybe a few suggestions for ending paragraphs (punchlines) – I will be ready to take the next step.
Now I start using the “metadata” storyline to create coherency. This is where the paragraphs and different points are being melted together, even rewritten to create a common thread that appear seamless. At this point I will also start to see some better options for both the title, ingress and the punchline of the article.
For the last part of the process I will be proofreading and getting second opinions. From this I will do the adjustments needed and review the article once more myself – before submitting it to the publisher. In most cases the publisher will send my articles directly to layout/print without doing edits, which saves them time and resources – and proves that my preferred process is a very successful recipe. At least it is for me – but it might not be for others.