Harness the Benefits of Process Writing to Unlock Creativity

Story structure is at the heart of storytelling. Many writers use the Hero’s Journey, the Three-Act Structure, the Snowflake Method, or Save the Cat, but there is another way to write a novel; Unlock your creativity with process writing and you’ll harness amazing benefits.

That’s not to say traditional outlining isn’t an amazing tool. Once you create an outline, you’ll have a clear roadmap for your story, the details of the plot points, robust character arcs, and chapter breakdowns…and all before the actual writing begins.

An Alternate Approach to Unlock Your Creativity

There is an alternative approach to writing that emphasizes discovery and organic development. It’s called process writing, and it can be liberating for writers. Why? Because it lets your story evolve organically. There are benefits and strategies to process writing. Read on for WriterSpark’s guide to use process writing in your own work.

Understanding Process Writing

In a nutshell, process writing allows the narrative to unfold as you write. This is diametrically different the pre-planned approach. Process writing is about exploration. The story and characters guide you. Your writing, then, becomes a journey of discovery filled with surprises and aha moments.

4 Key Benefits of Process Writing

  1. Creative Freedom: An outline is a roadmap, but with process writing, you have the freedom to explore different plot points, themes, and character developments. This unlocks your creativity an can lead to totally original and unexpected outcomes, and those moments are divine!
  2. Character-Driven Stories: Process writing is a great way for characters to evolve organically. As you write, their actions and decisions help shape the plot. This means more authentic and engaging character arcs.
  3. Flexibility: Process writing gives you the flexibility to pivot, adapt, and/or change your story as new (and sometimes brilliant!) ideas emerge. Imagine an unplanned plot twist or a new character emerging. You can embrace the new and incorporate it without feeling tied to your outline.
  4. Flow: When you write without a strict outline, the narrative can unfold naturally. This often mirrors real-life experiences and emotions, which can make the story more relatable and fluid.

Getting Started with Process Writing

  1. Start with the Seed of an Idea: All you need is a core concept or a rough idea. It could be a character, a setting, a conflict, or even a scene you’ve imagined. As you write, that seed will grow and branch out, growing into a leafy tree.
  2. The Discovery Draft: Your first draft is called a ‘discovery draft’. Don’t even think about perfection; focus on discovering your story. Write freely, knowing you can refine and structure later.
  3. Listen to Your Characters: This is your chance to really pay attention to your characters’ voices and motivations. Let them take the lead and guide the plot. You might be surprised at where they lead you.
  4. Be Open to Change: Pivoting is part of process writing. you have to be willing to abandon or alter ideas that don’t work as the story progresses or to go in a direction you hadn’t planned.

Strategies for Effective Process Writing

  1. Freewrite: Set aside time for freewriting. This is a chance to write without stopping to censor or edit. This process can help unlock new ideas and directions for your story.
  2. Writing Routine: Establish a writing habit. This could be daily, on the weekends, or odd days of the week. Whatever works! The key is consistency. It can help maintain momentum and keep you immersed in the world of your story.
  3. Reflective Journals: Keep a journal to reflect on your writing sessions. This gives you a chance to note new ideas, character insights, plot directions, or anything else that comes to mind.
  4. Set Goals: Set small, achievable writing goals (think SMART goals). Instead of aiming to complete a chapter, focus on writing a scene or developing a character’s backstory. Small bits are more manageable and add up to something bigger.

Overcoming Challenges

  1. Embrace Uncertainty: Not having a clear roadmap can be daunting, it’s true. Don’t let this stop you. Embrace the uncertainty as part of the creative process. Trust that clarity will emerge as you write. It’s part of the process.
  2. Stay on Course: It’s easy to veer too far off course, so rein yourself in when you see that happening. Review your progress now and then, and refocus when needed. Keep your writing focused on the central themes and characters.
  3. Balance Spontaneity with Structure: Process writing emphasizes spontaneity, but some structure is necessary. After your discovery drafts, start to apply a critical eye to shape and refine the narrative.

Wrapping up How Harnessing Process Writing Can Unlock Creativity

Process writing is a great alternative to traditional outlining. It emphasizes discovery and the organic growth of a story. It also encourages creative freedom which can (and probably will) lead to truly authentic character development. You need to be flexible, and willing to embrace uncertainty, but the rewards can be magical, helping your story come alive.

If you’re an aspiring writer, process writing can be a transformative experience. There is nothing like the magical aha moments you’re sure to experience. Start with a seed idea, keep a routine, and be flexible. Embrace the process, and let your story unfold!


Listen to the WriterSpark Podcast Episode on Process Writing featuring Boo Trundle!

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