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Updated: May 8, 2023

A Proven Six-Step Method to Get Your Ideas Down on Paper, and Have Them Published

Step 1 - Brainstorming

This is a crucial step for someone who has no idea what to write or how to even start. Brainstorming is a pretty easy step, and the only thing you need is a pen, a piece of paper, and your phone timer.

First, you do your free write. If you're unfamiliar with that, check out this great step-by-step process from the University of Lynchburg. Then, you figure out your "why." Why are you writing this? Are you trying to Persuade, Inform, Entertain, or to Express yourself?

Once you have all the clutter cleared from your mind, and your purpose for writing figured out, you're ready to create a clear and concise topic for your project.

Step 2 - Pre-Writing

Your pre-writing will help you organize all of your thoughts so that you know where you want them to go before you start writing.

What kind of learner are you? Because the type of organization method you use depends on whether you're a visual, auditory, and tactile learner (there are many other types, those are just the ones we're focusing on). Auditory learners do better with voice-recordings of their outline. Tactile learners benefit more from writing down their plan in list form. Visual learners are best served by using some graphic organizer (example: spider charts, six-squares, etc.).

You want to come up with some type of outline for your work using one of the above methods. Write down all the sub-topics you want to cover, and then put them into your preferred organizer in the way that most makes sense.

This is where you'll also want to do some form of research on your topic to make sure there is any knowledge you can add to make your project more well-rounded, and to check if there is any piece of knowledge that you may have missed.

Step 3 - Drafting

Once you've got all your thoughts organized, then you write your crappy first draft. Trust me when I say, everyone's first draft is terrible. I've written this blog post probably three times, and the first draft was crappy.

Your first draft might be short, it might have twelve-thousand grammatical errors, it may be super unorganized and not make any sense. The whole point of this step is that you're getting your idea onto paper. Much like the free-writing process, the only difference is that you are writing about your idea instead of doing a brain-dump.

Step 4 - Editing

This is when you start to worry about the crappy parts of your first draft. Wait at least 24 hours after completing your rough draft. Give yourself time to step away from this topic and get some "fresh air" for your brain. Then, grab a red or green pen (or your Microsoft Word / Google Doc highlighter), and start reading. Stop and highlight everything that has incorrect format, grammar, mechanics, or that sounds awkward. If you're not good at this, have someone do it for you! Ask a family member, go on Fiverr or Upwork, or schedule a consult with me!

Step 5 - Revising

Revising is not the same as editing. Once you've highlighted and pointed out all of the errors in your work, you'll need to actually go back and fix those errors. This is called revising. Your goal for this is to make sure that all of the highlights from editing get fixed and go away.

Typically this process goes through multiple rounds, especially for larger projects. I would suggest going through two rounds of editing and revising.

Step 6 - Publishing

This step is totally optional. And there are multiple ways to complete this step! Most people are only familiar with the old-fashioned, traditional way of publishing. But that's not the only way to get your work out there. Here are some options for you:


  • Self-publishing is quit obviously a form of do-it-yourself publishing. You'll either need to find and pay for an editor, a proofreader, a typesetter, a formatter, an indexer, an illustrator, and a cover designer, or do your editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover design yourself (it's not as hard as it sounds). Then, you'll submit the book yourself through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or a similar publishing facilitator.

Hybrid Publishing

  • Hybrid publishing is similar to self-publishing, as you typically retain all the rights to your materials and have creative control; however, instead of paying several different contractors to produce and publish your book, you pay a "hybrid publisher" to handle all aspects of the publishing process (proofreading, typesetting, book cover design, etc.).

Traditional Publishing

  • Sometimes self- or hybrid- publishing is the best approach. But there are times when you should consider the most well-known method. About 99% of the books you’ve ever heard of or read are traditionally published. You'll have to hire a literary agent, go through a long process of submitting manuscripts, and then the traditional publishers pay you an advance to buy the rights to publish, sell, and distribute your book.

As a high school English teacher, I have been teaching this process in one form or another for a very long time, to produce better writers, and people that better understand that it's not about how well you write or if you have the talent, it's how hard you're willing to work to write the best piece you can. And sometimes that requires help. That's what I'm here for! Contact me today to get your journey started.

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