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Writing Process for webwriters

On writer’s message boards, occasionally someone new will ask seasoned writers about our process. What steps do we go through in the writing process, to write fast web copy that (hopefully) doesn’t suck?

The process that works for me is so different from what I’m being asked to do in school (did I mention I’m attending college online, double majoring in journalism and pre-law).

In school, I’m supposed to go through this big long complicated process of

  • Pre-writing
  1. brainstorming
  2. defining an audience
  3. developing a thesis
  • Writing a draft
  1. outlining
  2. organizing details
  3. analyzing to support thesis or rewriting thesis
  • Revising Content
  1. use a graphic organizer (WTF – no kidding, we have to like draw these pictures with the words from our essay like arranged into word bubbles??????)
  • Editing sentences and words

When I was in high school and taking community college courses, I always managed to skim through without doing all of these extra steps.  I just wrote the damned paper. If it wasn’t logical or didn’t make sense, I’d fix it until it did.  If ever I had to turn in an outline before my paper, I’d have to actually WRITE the paper first, then create an outline.  No big deal, I always got straight A’s in every English and writing course I’ve ever taken, even though I never followed their technique.

But this time, I’m trying to flex my brain and follow the rules.  I turned in a draft before I wrote my paper.  It felt so wrong.  What feels even worse is the fact that I have to read my classmate’s drafts and offer helpful advice.  It’s torture.  If I ever said “Anyone can be a writer,” I take it back.

My Webwriting Process

Anyway- the process that comes naturally to me is one that I’ve seen other successful webriters sharing and it goes something like this. (Keep in mind that this process works for our little 500 word SEO articles, it may not be suitable for larger documents or school reports)

  • Internalize the title or keywords so you’re sure you understand what the reader wants to know (sometimes this can take like 2 seconds. If you need to research your own keywords, or come up with your own titles, it can take longer)
  • Look up the answer
  • Skim through several different reputable resources until you understand what they’re trying to say- make note of alternative perspectives
  • Write the damned article, being sure to reference and cite sources 2-3 times and answer the original reader’s query
  • Edit it to make sure the capitalization, grammar and punctuation are correct
  • Turn it in and get paid or
  • turn it in, edit it and then get paid

So what’s YOUR writing process?  How do you approach your nonfiction web articles?  Is your process the same for blog posts? Product reviews? Blurbs?

And do you ever feel the need to put a pen to paper and create a graphic representation of your article (I’m not judging, but graphics do nothing for me, I can’t even imagine the purpose of this- except to appeal to people who can’t make a mental image)