Writing is a Process Not a Procedure

Here’s how I learned to compose a piece in high school:

  1. Write an outline
  2. Write a rough draft, beginning to end
  3. Write one or more additional complete drafts
  4. Edit

Here’s how I actually write a piece:

  1. Write down some notes about the topic
  2. Start a draft
  3. Think about what I’m writing as I go about my day doing other things
  4. Write more notes
  5. Rearrange the ideas using an outline to figure out the structure
  6. Realize what it is I’m actually trying to say
  7. Rewrite
  8. Write a complete draft
  9. Revise
  10. Edit

Drafts, outlines, and mind maps aren’t clean steps. They’re techniques for organizing and sustaining the thinking process that ends up on the page.