Writing Journey

The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’


Or should I say, The 7 Stages of ‘What did I get myself into?’

Those who think writing a novel is a single phase operation, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it isn’t. Oh, how I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Alas, this arduous truth should not be withheld. Hence, I’ve decided to write this post and share my 7 stages of writing.

Disclaimer: My process isn’t benched at 7. Often times I go beyond when working on a novel. Sometimes I go under when working on a short story. But as my standard guide, 7 is a wonderful number. Do note that these stages do not include planning, and most certainly excludes professional editing.

1. Word Vomit

Mean Girls, anyone? My first stage of writing is vomiting everything in my head onto a word document. It’s just me, getting the story out, while trying to be as creative as I can. However, creative writing isn’t my goal. This stage is about telling, or should I say ‘reporting’, the story as it is. I do build the universe, I do develop the characters, but only as much as it is required to complete the story. Then, once my head is figuratively empty, I move to stage 2.

2. Rewrite

This is where I get creative. I research, google, and expand my imagination to paint vivid worlds and mold believable characters. I endeavour to be as ‘literary’ as I can, one paragraph at a time. Yes, one paragraph at a time – I rewrite every single paragraph. And yes, I detest this stage. If I could skip it, I gladly would. But I can’t, of course. Nobody wants to read word vomit.

3. Line Edit

Once I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, after completing stage 2, it’s time for line editing. I read aloud, test the pacing, check for errors, and split lengthy sentences. I scour for problematic areas. And as an extra step, I send the manuscript to beta readers.

4. Rewrite… Again? Again.

There’ll be areas in my writing that bug me excessively. So in this phase, I rewrite those paragraphs, dialogues, and sentences that rob me of my sleep. I also catch repetitive words in each chapter and find alternatives for them. And while doing all of that, I request feedback from my beta readers.

5. Line Edit… Again? Again.

Since I rewrote, I need to re-line edit. It’s back to reading aloud, testing the flow and pacing, and making minor changes if required.

6. Proofing

Before proofing, I usually take a break. And by break, I mean working on another story (either a new one or an existing one – it doesn’t matter). I try my best to clean my palate of the current work, and only return to it a month or so later. Fingers-crossed, my brain wouldn’t default to autocorrect upon my proofing. Though, let’s be honest, there’ll be mistakes I’ll overlook. Hence, stage 7.

7. Audio Proofing

Depending on the work, I sometimes run audio proofing twice using different voices. I alternate between tssreader.com and speechninja.co. Audio proofing helps me catch what I’ve missed, while testing the tempo as if read by a reader. It’s not a full proof stage in cleaning a manuscript, but it does call out errors. Despite it taking a while, it’s worth the time.

So, there you have it – my 7 stages.

Like I said above, this is just a guide for me to follow. The Slave Prince has gone over 10 stages, with multiple rewrites. Trails of the Wind has been audio proofed 3 times. Whereas most of my stories below a 1.5k word count are only rewritten once.

Also, the stages differ from author to author. I know of authors whose stage 1 is carefully executed requiring fewer rewrites after, and of those who’ve lost count of their rounds. It depends on the individual. But, we can all agree on one thing: no story should be published straight from the head.

If you’re new to writing, I hope this doesn’t scare you. Draw strength from your passion and dream, and you’ll find yourself doing your very best. Writing may seem laborious, but if it’s what you love, you will do it. Heck, you have to do it. It’s your life! And you’ll embrace whatever it encompasses.

10 thoughts on “The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’”

  1. I suffer from the 1st step. but what i do try to do is step 2 and step 6 and 7 (but changing the tones of my writer’s voice.< cause i write in 2 specific genres which are horror and fantasy(urban and epic). with the horror one i go really dark and with the urban fantasy specifically i go vulgar .

  2. Thank you for sharing your stages of writing. 🙂 I’m currently in stage two. The fun of spewing words out without a care is over and now I’m rewriting every single scene (plus adding some). This whole writing a story thing can make a person feel a bit lost, but it was helpful to look at your stages just to know what to do after I’m done with this one. I still have a lot left, but at least I know what the next stages will look like. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad my post helped! I, myself, add and remove scenes during rewrites – I added over 5k words to The Slave Prince. Rewrites are the best times to solidify your story 🙂 Keep going, Megan! One day soon, you’ll have a story ready for the world.

  3. I can totally relate to the “word vomit” thing considering that my novel was made for NaNoWriMo so there’s a time limit and I have to get everything out. It is really bad writing but at least I got the ideas out, and today I am starting my editing! Scary though hahaha nevertheless, I won’t run away 😀

    1. I find that the longer I toy with an idea without writing, the quicker I lose grasps of it. So, better out than in 🙂
      Yes, don’t run away! Some people struggle to finish writing a book. If you’ve finished one, you should never run from it.

  4. Thank you for this 🙂 I am glad to know I am not the only one who word-dumps into documents! I was convinced this was a horrible, primitive, wrong way! This is encouraging 😉

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