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An aid to remembering stages of writing

Updated on December 1, 2016

From where the idea came

I've tried to improve the way that I write by reading books and articles on writing - in particular the process and stages of writing. I felt that if I learnt the stages of the writing process, and was able to bring them quickly to mind, my writing skills would improve. However, I haven't found anything that allows me to memorize the process.
I therefore set about devising an aid to remembering the stages of writing, and came up with the acronym RED CARPETS - each letter being an aid-to-memory for each stage, as set out below. I wrote a description of each stage to clarify for myself the function of that section.

Read ED CARPETS

Read for information. Reading takes several forms, for example, reading for entertainment (such as reading a novel); reading for information (reading signs, instructions, for increasing knowledge).
Any form of reading may help in creative writing as the mind can sometimes absorb what is read without conscious awareness. However, what is absorbed can come to mind when needed. In addition, different styles and structures of writing are encountered when reading, which the writer may consider using.

R Elicit D CARPETS

Elicit what is important and have a general overview of ideas and thoughts. This helps to decide if Information needs to be gathered and what information is needed. However, irrelevant information, or too much information can clutter up and mask the focus and aim of the writing.
How and where to keep the information needs to be considered. Information needs to be somewhere that is easily accessible and retrievable such as a manual card filing system, or an electronic filing system.
Some writers may prefer using pen and paper and/or an electronic note taking device such as a smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Good organisation and filing is needed whichever method is used.

RE Decide

Decide to write - make a conscious decision to set time aside to focus on the physical act of writing, while keeping distractions to a minimum. It may be useful to set a goal such as writing for 30 minutes, to write a 1000 words or 3 pages of text.

RED Creativity ARPETS

Creativity - using specific creativity techniques may help, such as mind mapping or free writing. These techniques may be used with pen and paper or computer. The writer chooses what works for them.
For some writing, and for some writers this may be the first stage, even before gathering or generating information oneself.

RED C Arrange RPETS

Arrange/organise ideas. In order to communicate to others, some sort of logical structure to the writing is needed. This allows the reader to make sense of the writer's work.
The style and structure of the writing may be decided here. This leads on to the next stage.

RED CA Rearrange PETS

Rearrange the ideas into sentences/paragraphs to produce a draft. Revise, redraft and rethink - this may be thought of as a circle or spiral each leading to the next. This is where most of the actual work of writing is done, and the writing becomes more concrete and definite. The writing is sculptured at this stage and crafted into a work of art. The next stage is an integral part of this one.

RED CAR Persist ETS

Persistence is perhaps the most difficult aspect of writing, especially when going through a slow or difficult period.
Thoughts may include - 'where am I going with this, this is too difficult, I shouldn't have started this'.
When it is felt the writing is not going any where or is stuck, it may be best to leave things for a while, do something else, and then return to the writing.
Returning to the creative stage may help to get unstuck or unblocked. But there is an idea called the creative void, a period when it appears there is nothing going on, but this dormant stage may be needed to gather energy from which creativity can spring, or something unexpectedly develops. However, a balance between leaving the writing and going back to it is needed, or the creative void may become an excuse for doing nothing, as is waiting for inspiration.

RED CARP Edit TS

Edit - this section is the first part of quality control. Once the ideas and text has been written in a logical form, the writer reads it for technical errors. The correct use of grammar, commas, apostrophes and spelling are also checked.

RED CARPE Tidy S

Tidy - proofread and final tidy up. Here another look at the grammar is undertaken, and the overall look and feel of the work. It is useful to give the work to someone else to read, as we may be too close and blind to our writing style and structure

RED CARPET Success

Success- when a piece of work is accepted for publication or a reader appreciates your work. Rewards from others or from oneself is more likely to lead to further writing, and help one to persist in the task of writing. This gives an impetus for further writing and helps to overcome apathy.

Conclusion

When writing it may be useful to have a guide to keep on track/focused. RED CARPETS is an aid to remembering the stages of the writing process. It is not meant to be followed rigidly, but may be used as a template if and when it is felt a structure is needed. It may help to guide the creative process of writing, but it should not be slavishly adhered to, which might lead to the detriment of the flow of the creative process.

I find RED CARPETS easy to remember and use. It helps me stay on track and gives me focus. In addition when I'm stuck it helps me to locate the stage I'm in, and allows me to decide whether to go to a different stage, or stay in the current one. In this way there is movement in my writing process and I feel more in control of it.

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