Regardless of the type of writing you hope to do as a professional freelance writer, it's important to make sure you understand the components of the writing process.
The Components of the Writing Process
There are five major components of the writing process:
Prewriting is the process of gathering ideas and information for your project. This could include:
- General brainstorming
- Doing background research at the library or online
- Conducting interviews
- Writing character sketches
- Making an outline
After you've thought about what you hope to accomplish with your project, it's time to start actually writing the first draft. Every writer has a unique routine for this part of the process. Some write in the morning, while others write just before they go to sleep at night. Some people prefer to write in a home office, while others work best in a coffee shop surrounded by other people. Many writers prefer to write on a daily schedule to keep them motivated, but there are also a number of writers who only work when inspiration strikes.
Regardless of your particular writing routine, remember that writing requires both concentration and energy. Even experienced writers can seldom manage to write for hours at a time. It's perfectly acceptable to allow yourself a small break after an hour of uninterrupted writing.
Many novice freelance writers make the mistake of thinking that once they've finished a first draft, their work is complete. Unfortunately, your first draft is seldom representative of your best work. Every professional freelance writer understands that rewriting is one of the key parts of the writing process.
Rewriting may include:
- Adding sections to provide more detail where it is needed
- Removing sections that are repetitious or unnecessary
- Replacing sections with more vivid prose
- Rearranging parts of the piece to improve the overall flow
Revising is often where critique groups can come into play, especially if you're working on a longer project such as a book proposal. As a writer, it's natural to be attached to your project. However, what seems like brilliant prose to you may very well be confusing to the reader. Having a group of people review your work will give you new insights into what needs to be changed or improved. Even if some of the criticism is hard for your ego to take, this will make you a much better writer in the end.
Editing involves checking over the smaller details that you've ignored until now in favor of focusing on the overall structure of your work. During the editing process, you are evaluating:
- Word choice
- Formatting mistakes
Most writers simply edit their own work before they attempt to submit it for publication, since it will undoubtedly be edited again before it is released to a wider audience. However, if you really struggle with the mechanics of the English language, you may want to consider hiring a freelance editor to assist you with this part of the process. Brilliant prose is unlikely to impress your client if it is littered with spelling and grammatical errors.
Publishing simply involves distributing your work in its finished format. For a freelance writer, this is generally interpreted as distributing the project to the client, sending off a query letter, or submitting a book proposal.
While the goal is to have your work met with enthusiastic reviews, rejection is often one of the components of the writing process. A client may not like the way you handled his press release or a magazine may feel your idea isn't suitable for their audience. Don't let this keep you from pursuing your dream of a freelance writing career. Consider their suggestions, revise your work, and try again. In the end, your persistence will pay off.