One Wednesday morning 15 writers (published and aspiring) met at Impact Hub Vienna for a Skill Share Breakfast. Led by Salwa Yossef, a published writer with experience across many topics, they all learned the important steps one should take before beginning to write a piece.
Salwa talked us through a tried and true method to writing a great novel, article, poem or even love letter. Planning, she explained, is key to success and should never be underestimated. To plan well you need to cover the following stages:
The ‘When’ part:
Deadlines are critical in writing. If you aren’t given one, make one for yourself! Contact people, make appointments and collect information. You undertake passive thinking (where you think about the assignment during normal activities and let it percolate) and active thinking (when you link the story through research, interviews etc).
The ‘Who’ part:
Here it is important to identify to two key players. Firstly, who are we writing for and what do they want addressed through the piece you are writing? It is important to fully understand the outputs or key points this person would like to see in our piece, before we begin. Secondly, we need to identify the audience we are writing for. What are the key points they need to know?
The ‘What’ part:
What are we going to write about? Along with this question comes another – ‘What is my style?’ This is the time to think about how the piece will be written. Is it promotional? Academic? Informative? Entertaining?
The ‘Where’ part:
Every writer is different and though it may sound silly, everyone has a place where they prefer to write. This is the place where they feel comfortable and the writing flows. Whenever you need to write, go to that place!
The ‘Why’ part:
Write like it’s your job. It was here that Salwa explained that she didn’t think of writing as art, because there is always a right and a wrong. Spelling, grammar and punctuation must all be correct – and this is SO important!
After you have gone through these stages, then you begin to write.
Pieces of the Pie:
The first 2/3 of your piece comes together by connecting all the dots. You put all different pieces of the story together and juggle them around till you create something. The next 1/3 comes when you rewrite.
Sleep on it and then rewrite again. And repeat.
Then comes editing and proofreading. Salwa stressed that editing is a skill and it is important to use a professional editor, and not just another writer friend, when editing your work. It is here that your words are refined and finessed and fit for publishing.
Once your piece has been edited, you then need to proofread. This can be done by a friend or a professional. It is at this point we ensure the story has consistency and no mistakes.
Great advice from someone who has been there and done that. We were left with a lot of other juicy advice, but the final (and for me the most important) word of wisdom we were told was to have FUN; remember to experiment, try new things, and enjoy the process.
Missed Salwa’s Skill Share Breakfast? Catch the next one coming soon! Check our Events page for upcoming opportunities to learn from the Hub community.