From the first glimpse of a story idea to the period at the end of a finalized manuscript, all this encompasses your writing process. But how do you know if you’re using the steps that will work best for you?

Like all things creative, you try, try, and try to find what works. You might hear someone say something or you read something about another writer’s process, something that lights you up inside, and you somehow KNOW that you should try this. Other times, you might have to try different methods to discover what works. Be patient, this is all part of the PLAN.

The PLAN? Yes! Part of any creative endeavor is finding your own way, your own path. This is part of the fun of life, of writing. What develops is your own unique PLAN, your writing process. It’s like a journey and getting there is more than half the fun.

Keep in mind: The writing process is not a “one size fits all” plan. Adjust the pieces that you need in the order that makes sense for you.

The stages of a writer’s process might be broken down as:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft


Reading the draft

Revision and self editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

NOTE: Not every writer will go through each stage, skipping over one or more. These are general categories which might be used in a variety of ways. Keep your thinking flexible when thinking about these stages and your writing process.

Some of these stages might be repeated multiple times. Others might be skimmed over or skipped. It depends on YOU and what you need to get from idea to completed manuscript.

Catching the Idea

Ideas happen all the time. The trick is to recognize, be open, and catch them.


Keep a list of places where you get ideas.

What has “set off” an idea for you? Newspaper item? A snippet of dialog? Watching people? Daydreaming?

Does your five senses generate ideas? Something you smell? See? Hear? Taste? Feel?


Open yourself up to receiving ideas. Make a statement. Write it down. Believe. For example: I am open to the flow of ideas that exist all around me. I am open and ready for ideas to come to me. (Yes, like an affirmation.)


Some writers work from ideas sparked by the imagination and other from life experiences. No matter where the idea comes from, what is important is catching it. Since these come at us without warning, the key is to be prepared. And don’t tell yourself: This is great. I know I’ll remember…You might, but more likely you might not as ideas can be here one moment and gone the next.

Here are some suggestions for catching the idea.

Notepad or notebook

Index cards

Back of your business card (I’ve done this!)

Word processor document

Digital or voice recorder

Call your voice mail

Camera/video phone

The trick here is to have a way to capture ideas without having to look for the way to record it. That takes too much time. The method must be at the time the idea is fresh in your mind like a fresh baked apple pie straight from the oven.

You do keep a list of ideas, don’t you? (Of course you do!) Try to keep one list, in one place. Take those ideas you came up with outside of your home and consolidate. You might decide to put different ideas into different categories or to prioritize them, for example, the ones you’re most interest in working on.

Question for today: What do you presently do to capture ideas? 

Best Wishes,