Plan and Outline Your Writing
You don’t have to wait until you have concrete ideas to start writing. Instead, outline your ideas using subheadings and notes. Think about what you would like the reader to take away from your writing and make an outline based on this. Alternatively, think of yourself as the reader, what key points would you like to know? What interests you?
You don’t need to do research at this stage, simply start with what you know and what you want to achieve. This will guide your research and prevent you from going off-topic. Throughout the writing process, you’ll be fleshing out this plan and always have a starting point to work with. You might find yourself reorganising the content, or adding new ideas as you research but that’s okay! You’re making progress rather than simply thinking about what you’d like to write. For academic essay outlines, see this article.
The First Draft
This is often the hardest part of writing anything. You might find yourself rewriting each sentence a few times before moving onto the next. Before you know it, you haven’t made as much progress as you hoped. Likewise, you might feel the need to procrastinate writing the first draft because you know how long it will take you. However, the first draft should be the quickest one.
Set a 25-30 minute timer and write about the things you find interesting. What would you enjoy reading about this topic? Don’t edit as you go, get as much down as you can. Even if that means leaving notes for yourself to flesh out later on. If you’re working on a larger piece of writing, you might need to do this for each section. Check out this thread for more tips!
Editing Your Writing
This is where you can start crafting your ideal piece of work. This stage is usually where we hope to start with perfectly curated sentences and paragraphs. But planning and drafting is what allows us to get to this stage! Those steps make starting easier and allow you to progress more efficiently. It’s ideal to spend the most of your time editing. You might also need to edit in small doses.
For example, your first re-draft could involve fixing the flow of your narrative. Do all your points match your original goal? Have you gone off topic? Have you backed up your points? Later, you might spend time editing the more technical aspects. Do your paragraphs flow together nicely? Have you used a consistent writing style and tone throughout? Is this appropriate for the content you’re writing?
At this point, it’s good to take breaks from your writing so you can view it with a fresh perspective when you return. By editing your first draft piece by piece, you’ll find clarity and be able to refine your ideas. You might realise now why trying to edit that first draft as you write it can become tedious and frustrating. You’re trying to perfect not only the content but how it’s presented. That’s why editing your first draft to a good standard is more ideal than trying to tackle everything at once.
Whether you’re writing a blogpost, essay or academic article, this writing process is an ideal starting place. You can find tips focused more towards academic writing here, and read someone else's perspective on the writing process here.