Writing Process: Craft Comes First

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 22nd Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

Competition is Fierce

While I may be encouraged by Hemingway’s quote, I also know that by the time I hit the publish button on this article, 1,999,999 other writers will be doing the same thing. That is a lot of competition for readers. So how can I attract and keep readers?

Create a better article that combines good writing with passion and heart. I am also encouraged that Gerard de Marigny, distinguishes art and craft in his opinion.

“There’s a difference between the ‘art’ of writing and the ‘craft’ of writing. Art is subjective, its beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but craft is objective. There is a right way and a wrong way to craft.”

Writing Process – Organic Talent – the Art or Learned Skill – the Craft?

A process is the way that you accomplish something; going from point A to B, or blank page to finished article. You may have a process for writing and not be aware of it.

However, if you review your last few articles, and then retrace your steps in creating the article, you will see your own process. For instance, some writers see a news article or get an idea, immediately have thoughts and feelings about the topic, and start writing. This is an organic form of processing; others will create an outline and write their articles.

Review Your Articles to Determine Best Outcomes

Are you still uncertain about which process works best for you? Reviewing the statistics on your articles, and reflecting on your process can help you see:

Which finished article was more satisfying to write?
• What process - Organic or Outline?
• Why was this topic appealing?
• What did you know about the subject?
• Did you research to broaden your knowledge?
• Which articles attracted more readers or positive comments?

Analizing the Outcomes

When you see which finished piece was most effective, it helps you define and refine your process or method. When you understand your writing process, it can help narrow your focus and produce better creative pieces, whether it is organic free writing or working from an outline. I can see views for a day and then determine whether I wrote organically or used an outline.

For each of these articles, I created an outline, did pre-writing and research. My daily views reinforce that this process attracted readers.

Processing: Planned Pieces or a Prompt?

Some writers wait for inspiration to write, some of us follow a schedule and write a certain number of articles a week or month. I plan my articles and usually use an outline. However, I recently wrote two articles after the death of a good friend where I did not have a plan nor use an outline.

If I set aside the emotions and thoughts I still have about the person and simply view the articles objectively, the writing did not suffer because I did not outline. The structure of both articles is sound.

Organic Writing When Inspired

This writing surprised me when I reflected on it because it did not generate from an outline. What this taught me was that certain subjects lend themselves to organic writing and others, an outline. However, without a review of my writing and analyzing the process, I would not realize this. Therefore, I would challenge you:

• If you tend to write from one process, try a different method, either writing spontaneously and organically or writing from a planned outline. Trying different approaches to your writing will help you improve as a writer.

Processing and Prewriting Using a KWL Table

When I am researching a topic, I also have to consider if I will write about the topic from the perspective of breadth or depth. I often use a KWL table, developed by Dona Ogle. It simplifies:

• What I know
• What I Want to Know
• What I Learned


When I define the KWL information, I create a better-structured article.

Breadth or Depth for the Article?

Deciding if the article is about the breadth of the topic, with a general overview of the various aspects of the topic, or isolating certain elements and writing about them in-depth is a decision each writer must make in determining the piece.

A writer can choose to give an interesting, informative overview of a topic and write a good article, or focus on specific points of the general topic and give in-depth information and resources for the reader.

A simple way to separate breadth from depth is to think of bulleted lists as breadth and a 1000-word article about one of the bulleted points as depth.

For instance, I often write about the craft and structure of writing. In an overview format, I would simple list the components of an article and a brief description of each, similar to the following:

1. Title: Predicts Content, Keywords, Promise of Information, Stimulate Reader Curiosity
2. Introduction: Appealing statements to attract readers, relevant quotes, attention grabbing, sets tone
3. Content: Paragraphs of information, educational How-to, Entertaining, Helpful
4. Conclusion: Summarizes all information relating back to title and key elements of Content

Breadth: Equal Coverage for All Elements

In an article with breadth, each component has equal value and there would not be more emphasis placed on writing about one element over the other.

Article Depth: Highlighting One Element

In an in-depth article, I might still list the basic elements; however, I would focus on one specific element and give readers more information, sources, or descriptors to enlighten readers about that individual element.

Breadth or Depth? Both Begin with Craft

Both types of articles serve a purpose. From a writer’s standpoint though, looking at how saturated the market is with your topic might help you decide whether to write breadth or depth.

Regardless though, first comes craft. Each day, I try to learn a little more about the craft of writing. Some books and writers that have helped me are:

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost
Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces by Roy Peter Clark
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The Writer as an Artist by Pat Schneider

Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

And To Encourage All of Us; From My Muse Board

Therefore, improving at the craft of writing might mean defining your process, analyzing the results, trying something different, and finding your voice, tone and style.

In addition, I think improving our craft might just set us apart from those other 1,999,999 other writers.



For additional articles by Marilyn Davis
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Credits
All images created by Marilyn Davis

Tags

Article Breadth, Article Depth, Article Quality, Better Writing, Craft Of Writing, Kwl Tables For Article Writing, Writing Process, Writing Quality

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Steve, Wow, that was quick. Thank you for moderating and for the Star. I appreciate them both. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

This is fine work, Marilyn. I would say my process is generally organic, but it may be that I keep a general outline in my head and just don't commit it to paper. ;)

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Phyl, thanks for the comment. I may just be more forgetful than you, so I do put things to remember for the article on paper. However, sometimes, it is not a page in the computer and I have to hunt for that scrap with the "best part" written on it :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Apr 2014 (#)

So do we all! My brain is a mess on any day that ends in "Y." ;)

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author avatar snerfu
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

I set aside the thoughts... indeed if only we could be this objective in everything we do! Good article Marilyn keep up the good work.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

Good evening, snerfu, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate the encouraging words. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

Marilyn, thanks for some more words of wisdom. Writers should never rest on their laurels and should always be looking for ways to improve.
I need to go back and review some of my articles and my thought process and to see which process works best for me.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Connie, I also have to do the same on some of the earliest ones. I know I lost the focus and they were too long. Sometimes the KWL information should probably be two articles. Online writing is not typically as lengthy as some I wrote. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

This is really interesting. KWL is also one strategy that can be used in teaching.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Angel, KWL was originally developed for teaching as you point out. I just think it is a good way to solidify the three elements and use it in writing or outlining. Thanks for adding this information. I appreciate it and the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar wonder
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

I like the Art and Craft definitions, helpful.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
24th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Wonder, it is important to distinguish between the two; however, a good article needs both...that is what I strive for, anyway :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
25th Apr 2014 (#)

Marilyn, I love your analytical rigor coupled by user-friendly-indeed attractive--presentation. Indeed, though this quote is biased to me, I like it: "All artists are craftsmen, but not all craftsmen are artists."

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
25th Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, L.R. thank you - what kind things to say. I would have to agree with the quote. Growing up with an artist mother and sister, I know that I understood what they were painting, drawing or creating, however, could not execute it - my solution was to become an artist with words.....How's the driving going? ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Apr 2014 (#)

In-depth analysis Marilyn, thank you. I am more like the quote attributed to Pat Schneider. Mine are more from what I observe in life and I keep wondering why we repeat the mistakes and thereby not able to realize our potential. Sometimes I get a feel our leaders are up to no good wasting time accusing others to hide their inadequacies - siva

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
26th Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Siva, I value the Pat Schneider quote as well. Placing the blame on others or being critical of them is an old trick to avoid accountability. I think you have even written about that, haven't you? If not, you've got the makings of another article with the ideas in your comment. Regardless, I look forward to more of yours. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Ptrikha
16th May 2014 (#)


A scientific and organized way of writing stuff.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th May 2014 (#)

Good morning, Ptrikha, thank you for the comment - I do not think anyone has every referenced anything that I've written from a scientific perspective :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
11th Jun 2014 (#)

What you say about competition being fierce is so very, very true which is one of the reasons why I attempt to write more analytical pieces and that way it has more longevity, but in order to be more analytical you also have to do more research and more thinking. This article should have longevity, it is likely to still be read while the other 1.9million articles have been forgotten.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Good evening, Peter; thank you for those kind words. I know that we both feel strongly about writing to the best of our ability and researching. Those other 1.9 million can instagram to their heart's content...I'll settle for a Star and good comments here. :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
5th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing such a great article. I'm a known fantasy dreamer and I love to write. Sometimes people ask where I get my imagination from. The truth is I think it's just the way I think. I've written since I was a little girl and have many articles published. I love reading articles like this one. I'm always open to learning. Thanks

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
5th Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, Nancy; thank you for adding to the discussion. I think we all have to be open to continued learning as you point out. ~Marilyn

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