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For Writers,  How To

From Inspiration to Publication: How To Navigate the Creative Writing Process

Though the process of writing something wonderful is far from easy, it’s a small part of the bigger process: becoming an author.

Whether you want to have best-selling books in every store, make it to number one on Kindle or iBooks, or create your own author store, the process is always similar.

To go from idea to a complete book to a profitable book, you must understand what you want for the work. Think about your biggest dreams for your writing and keep that in mind as you begin the process.

So whether you are starting your writing career or are just curious, I will walk you through the creative writing process from inspiration to publication.

From Inspiration to Publication: How To Navigate the Creative Writing Process pinterest graphic

Break It Down

To simplify everything that goes into creative writing, we will break the process down into three phases: prep, active, and promo.

The prep phase is all about what happens before you even write the first word. Before you write, you must decide on an idea, plan the story, and know what you want for the story. Are you creating a novel to publish online? Are you hoping to send it to an agent or publisher? Or, are you wanting to create a new story for your portfolio? Either way, knowing where you want your work to end up is crucial.

The active phase is where the fun happens and is the part most writers enjoy most. This is where you write your story, yes, but there are a few aspects you don’t want to forget. Updating your followers and sending out sneak peeks can boost interest and get your readers excited. This is also where you will edit and perfect your work.

Then, we reach the promo phase. After your work is complete, you must work to publish and promote your writing. You can choose to self-publish, work with a publisher, or post your work wherever you choose. Share your story with your followers, family, and friends, and don’t be shy. You have to share your writing if you want people to purchase and read your work.

The Creative Writing Process: Prep Phase

To begin this journey through the creative writing process, let’s assume all you have is an idea. As we continue, we will take that idea and walk through each step involved in turning the idea into a published story. And, it all starts in the prep phase.

Going from idea straight to writing a story probably won’t get you far. Unless you have a plan of action, how will you know what to even write? To better help you understand, let’s pretend the idea we have is a story about a character winning a race. That’s it, that’s all we know. Now what? Well, there are two main things we need to sort out before we write: what we want for the story and how the story unfolds.

Understand What You Want for the Story

What do we want this story to become? A short story? A novel? Maybe a screenplay? Do we want it to be an inspirational story? Or maybe a sad, heartbreaking story? It’s best to answer these questions now, so you have a clear direction to go when you write, and eventually publish your work. Here are some questions you can think about:

  • What is my end goal for this story?
  • What will I do with this story once it’s finished?
  • How will I publish this story?
  • What genre would I consider this story?
  • What mood do I want to create with this story?

Keep in mind, that the answers to the questions may change as you progress, and it’s good to revisit them now and then and update them as needed.

How The Story Unfolds

This step is probably the most important as it’s where you develop the plot and plan as much as possible. The more you sort out now, the easier the writing will be.

Let’s look back at our idea—a story about a character winning a race. After taking some time to think about the idea, we know we want to write a short story that we will publish on our portfolio. We want to write an inspirational story that delivers a sense of hopefulness. Now, we need to create the plot and outline the story.

If you want more detail about outlining and planning stories, I have an entire post about that, so I’ll keep it brief here. You can find the post here.

Now we’ve taken the time to create a solid outline. We know the main events, and how the plot unfolds, and we have developed strong characters.

Here’s a quick outline for our example:

  • Exposition:
    • Main character’s parents make him feel inadequate
    • Main character confides his struggles with a friend
    • Friend suggests he should make his parents proud by winning something
  • Inciting Incident: main character signs up for a race
  • Rising Action:
    • Main character trains in secret for the race
    • Main character runs into antagonist and learns he is undefeated
    • Antagonist feels threatened by Main Character and decides to sabotage him
  • Climax: antagonist sabotages main character
    • Antagonist lies to judges of the race and gets Main Character disqualified
  • Falling Action:
    • Main character learns he’s been can’t race
    • His friend learns Antagonist lied to judges
    • Main Character and Friend explain what happened to judges
    • Judges let him race
  • Resolution: main character wins race

Again, you can learn more about this outline and planning stories in general from my post. So, once we’ve outlined our story, and have a better understanding of the characters, we can move on.

The Creative Writing Process: Active Phase

We know our goals for the story and we know how the story will unfold. Now, it’s time to write the story, and then edit and perfect it. My goal for this post is to explain the writing process from beginning to end, so I won’t be going too much into the ins and outs of writing a book or editing one, but I will list some posts that do go into more detail. Just know that this is the part of the writing process where those things take place.

Here are some posts that can help with this step:

If you are interested in a detailed week-by-week timeline on how you can write an entire novel in one year, I’d suggest my workbook!

write an entire book in one year listing image

Once we have written and edited our story, we should have a nearly finished piece of work. So, let’s look back at our goals for what to do next. We wanted to publish this short story on our portfolio, so there isn’t much left to do. But let’s move to the next phase.

The Creative Writing Process: Promo Phase

Once you have perfected your writing, now is the time to format it for whatever you plan on doing with it next. Maybe you want to publish your story on iBooks or Kindle Direct Publishing and will have to format it according to their guidelines. Or, maybe you want to send it to possible agents and will need to look into their requirements. For our example, though, we will publish it on our portfolio, so we just need to turn it into a PDF.

This is also the time to create the cover (whether yourself or working with an artist), create descriptions (long and short), and promote the story. Now, there may be more steps involved in this phase depending on your plans for the story, and these are just some steps that are involved.

What is absolutely essential in this phase is promotion. You must promote your work if you want anyone to see it. Whether you publish it yourself, work with a publisher, or just post it on a blog or portfolio, be proud of what you’ve created and let your audience know.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this has given you a better understanding of the creative writing process and how to take an idea to a finished story. Feel free to leave any questions or comments and stay tuned for more!

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