Understanding the Writing Process

As professional writers, we know that writing doesn’t just happen. It isn’t the capricious off-loading of the mind into paper. It isn’t the haphazard stringing together of words and sentences to make some preconceived point. 

In reality, writing is a process. It involves well-thought-out, articulated, and synchronised actions and decisions which result in publicly consumable content. Irrespective of how creativity reliant an art or craft is, it must under-go process.

At Sabi Writers, our writing goes through a thorough step-by-step process to guarantee maximum quality, originality, and efficiency. In this post, we’ll be sharing our writing process, the math behind the magic we do. 

The Pre-writing Stage

Every piece of literature known to man was born out of an idea. Nevertheless, the idea is only the beginning; it must first be nurtured, expanded, and developed to the point of maturity where it is translated to a written form.

This development happens in the pre-writing stage. Here, the writer sources for materials, additional information, and other specific elements that serve as building blocks with which he fleshes out the idea. 

After filling out the idea, the writer begins to structure all the information he has gathered. This involves cutting out unnecessary information, deciding which points remain, and piecing together the final picture of the content he wishes to create. 

The Drafting Stage

At this stage, the writer translates his ideas, points and notes into transitional paragraphs that help make his point clear. Here, the writer allows his creativity to run free, expressing himself through words, tone, and style. 

While drafting, the writer is not concerned with grammatical errors, spellings or other errors. Instead, he focuses on letting his creativity run free as any form of editing is premature and will obstruct his flow.  

The errors in a writer’s drafts are not proof of some failing or incompetence; it is relatively normal to have mistakes in your first, second, and third drafts. As you know, writing is a process and drafting is only a part of it. At the end of the process (that is if they are carried out correctly), the work will be in top form. 

The Revision Stage

At this stage, the writer is less concerned about expressing his creativity and more occupied with tailoring the content to match his readership and the prescribed style of writing. 

The writer will ask these questions:

Is my writing clear?

Is it concise?

Are the points expanded enough?

Do my paragraphs transition into one another?

How will the readers interpret this work? 

Is my writing informative or shallow?

Is it professionally delivered?

Is the information provided, credible?  

The Editing Stage

People often feel the revision stage and the editing stage are somewhat similar and therefore, interchangeable. This is not true. While revising is concerned with correcting structural errors, editing is taking a closer look at sentences and words to check for grammatical errors, spelling errors, repetition, punctuation, redundancy, and other minor but inexcusable writing errors.  

However, writers are advised against self-editing, as there is the tendency for a few errors to elude them. At Sabi Writers, the quality control department is there to edit and proofread as editing is not left to writers in order to ensure the highest quality.  

The Proofreading Stage 

The proofreading stage is where the final draft is reviewed to check for typographical, grammatical, and formatting errors. Proofreading ensures that the content is well written, organised, and easy to understand. Proofreading also ensures the document follows the prescribed style guide.

In summary, proofreading is just a final review of the final draft. This is the last writing process that vets the accuracy of all other processes. In traditional writing and publishing, no material should be published without being proofread.

Remember, no good literary piece comes out great without a process. The process is a sine qua non for all writing. If followed correctly, the writing processes can help to make for a professional and accurate document. 

Thank you for reading.

Conquering the Comma (2)

People hate grammar—that much is common knowledge. But what we tend to forget is that good grammar makes for good writing. For this reason, we will be continuing with our ‘Conquering the Comma’ series, highlighting more uses of the comma, while also pointing out some common comma errors.

Use the comma in a direct address.

The Chicago Manual of Style notes that ‘…a comma is used to set off names or words used in direct address and informal correspondence’.

So we have:

Wendy, how are you?

Mum, will you be home tomorrow?

Also, place the comma before the name if it appears within the sentence or at the end of it.

Are you there, Tim?

I know your brother, David.

Use the comma to set off non-essential elements in a sentence.

Non-essential elements are clauses, phrases and words whose presence or absence does not affect the general message of the sentence.

I cooked the turkey, which took me nearly thirty minutes, before moving on to the decorations.

The trader, seeking higher profit, raised the prices of all her wares.

The rule of thumb with non-essential elements is that the comma is placed before and after the non-essential part.

Use a comma to indicate where a word has been omitted.

In cases like these, the comma helps to clear up confusion while indicating the omission.

Martha has two dogs; John (has) nine.

In that sentence, omitting ‘has’ without the use of the comma obscures the message being passed across.

The sentence becomes more straightforward when written like this.

Martha has two dogs; John, nine.

Use the comma to offset negation.

For example:

I saw a cow, not a duck.

She went to the mall, not the beach.

Some common comma errors:

  1. Comma splice

A comma splice is an error that occurs when two independent clauses are joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction. A comma splice can be fixed by adding coordinating conjunction to the comma or switching the comma with a semi-colon.

Wrong            I went to the mall, she followed me.

    Right                 I went to the mall, and she followed me

  • Using commas between correlative conjunctions

Sometimes, the comma is erroneously used between the two conjunctions in a pair.

For example:

He not only broke the record, but he also broke hers.

Although this comma usage often seems correct, it is wrong. This means the sentence above should be written as:

He not only broke the record but he also broke hers.

  • Adding a comma before ‘that’ in a clause

There’s the tendency to punctuate them alike because of the functional similarities between ‘that’ and ‘which’, which is  wrong.

Wrong             The man, that bought the car is here.

Right               The man that bought the car is here.

  • Using a comma before a verb in a relative clause

Placing a comma before the verb connecting the relative clause to the main clause breaks the flow between both clauses, which is frowned upon in standard grammar.

Wrong             One of the perks of being a mother, is having someone to love.

Right              One of the perks of being a mother is having someone to love.

  • The unnecessary comma

Sometimes, we place the comma incorrectly because of the relatable ‘I just felt there should be a comma there’ feeling. Sometimes, this hunch is right, while at other times, it is wrong.

The best way to avoid making such mistakes is by structuring your sentences with grammar rules in mind.

For example:

You either like food, or you don’t.

My dog died, because I starved it.

Both sentences are wrong because they need no comma.

Lastly, the easiest way to get the hang of comma use is by reading and writing regularly. When you see how others use the comma, you get better at using the comma. It’s that easy. Excellent comma use isn’t an impossible dream; it is easier than you think.

3 Reasons You Need To Write Beyond Your Niche.

In an earlier post, we emphasised the need for writers to find their niches, but in this post, we will be discussing why  writers should go beyond their niches. Much as this may seem like a contradiction, it is not. We aim to help writers understand that a niche is not equivalent to a limit. You are not circumscribed to explore only within the borders of your niche; there is so much more you can do.

All writing is art, and all art is boundless. A writer with a niche is not a writer with a boundary, but one with a recognised and developed area of strength.

To buttress our point, here are three valid reasons why every writer needs to go beyond his/her niche.

  1. Professional writers try to know a little of everything.

Much as it is impossible to know everything, it is possible to know a little of everything. This is the difference between the exceptional and the ordinary—versatility.

If there is one thing professional writers are known for, it is flexibility. They refuse to be constrained within a forte. They are curious enough to try their hands on any aspect of writing they pick an interest in. Now, while they may not get it right, they gain knowledge.

Professional writers are not the best at everything; they are writers who are dedicated to expanding their range of knowledge and experience.

2. Challenging yourself boosts mental agility.

Mental agility is the ability to segue from one task to another. Mental agility is one of the most important skills any individual could possess. It is necessary for every person irrespective of career choice.

Writers need mental agility, and one of the easiest ways to boost it is by challenging yourself. Challenges are a lot like the physical exercises we do to keep our bodies fit, except this time, it’s our minds.

Taking on new duties no matter how difficult, trains your mind to adapt to foreign objectives or conditions. This way, nothing overwhelms you mentally because your mind is prepared to take on challenges.

Trying out other types of writing is a form of challenge. You don’t have to get it right. You might even do very poorly, but you put your brain to the test, and that’s all that matters. 

3. Versatility heightens your creativity.

Writing exposes you to different styles, types and methods of writing. It also causes you to develop a unique flavour that comes only by experience and exposure. It gives you flair, energy, and a vibe that you can’t find anywhere else. Dabbling takes your writing from good writing to sui generis.

Remember, it is never about being good at everything. It is all about keeping yourself unhindered and letting your talent run wild and free. It is about self-exploration, satisfying curiosity and learning new things.

Why keep yourself circumscribed within a niche when you could go much farther?

Today, try your hands on other genres of writing.

Do Writers Need Editing Tools?

Yes, they do.

Does this mean the writers are not talented? No. Does this mean they do not know their onions? Of course not. Are writers fakes for fixing their shortcomings with editing tools? Far from it!

A writer is good with or without editing tools. After all, the world’s greatest masterpieces were written long before Artificial Intelligence (AI) was introduced in writing. However, editing tools take you from a good to an efficient writer. 

What if Jane Austen had had Grammarly? What if Leo Tolstoy had ProWritingAid? Without a doubt, they would have achieved much more in less time. 

Still not convinced? Here are a few other reasons why you need an editing tool.

  1. Editing tools save you time.

In place of re-reading countless times trying to spot errors that have continually eluded you, how about you run it through Proofread Bot or Slick Write? That way, you save time and guarantee quality.

2. Editing tools are lifesavers.

They hunt down split infinitives, attack poorly constructed sentences and even muck out every usage of a comma in place of a semi-colon. This way, some of the work is taken off the editor’s shoulders, affording him the chance to focus on weightier matters. 

3. You learn from them.

The first time Grammarly accused you of redundancy, you almost had a heart attack. You were aghast. ‘But I’m a great writer’, you protested. ‘And there is absolutely nothing wrong with “just” (never mind the fact it was completely unnecessary in the sentence). 

After months of strict correction and unapologetic blows to your ego, you start to pick up.

Today, you know that the word ‘just’ tends to be redundant. You learn that you are emotionally attached to ‘that’ and use it everywhere (even when you should not). You find that punctuating in a compound sentence is wrong because the editing tool drew a long red line under your favourite word ten times. 

Editing tools do not stop at alerting you to errors, they back up every correction with plausible and accurate grammatical explanations that help you brush up your writing and editing skills.

4. The editing is spot-on 

After wrapping up your three thousand word-essay, you declare yourself a pro, a master writer—the best among many. Your brain tells you there is not an error in sight. The only red marks in your work are under the names. Everything looks perfect, but is it?

It turns out the brain is very biased when it comes to the content it produces. Due to your familiarity with the content, you tend to skim instead of thoroughly examining the work. The bottom line is that you cannot trust yourself to edit your work. This is where editing tools come in. 

A no-nonsense AI editing tool is designed to take one look at your work and show you the many run-on sentences, poor word choices, and inconsistency issues. Not to mention the times you used ‘there’ instead of ‘their’. 

As you know, one rule of writing is no typos—at all. Typographical errors are one of the quickest ways to lose the reader’s interest. There are terrific editing tools out there. From Grammarly and Scrivener to ProWritingAid and Hemingway—these editing tools help take your writing to the next level.

You could also get assistance from editors and professional writers like Sabi Writers to give it that human touch.    

Spice Up Your Writing in Four Steps!

Is your writing the kind that makes the reader’s eyeballs bleed?

Do your family members cringe at the thought of reading something you wrote?

Have you ever heard your best friend whisper under her breath, ‘Is this content or torture?’

Do you get reviews like ‘your work is…eh…not quite there?’

Say no more.

We have compiled four practical ways by which you can make your writing more appealing and readable.

  1. Write more in the active voice than in the passive voice

The eggs were eaten by the boys.

If no one has had the heart to tell you, we’ll do it: most of the time, writing in passive voice makes your readers’ get bored. Take it from professionals, there are healthier and reader-friendly ways to pass your message across.

For example, instead of that half-dead sentence, how about we say, the boys ate the eggs. This conveys a sharper image of the idea.

Passive voice isn’t bad in itself, but it fails to have as firm a grip on the reader’s mind as the active voice. If you must write in the passive voice, do it minimally.

2. Be concise and creative with words

If you’re a writer, then you must love words. However, you don’t need to remind people of your affection for words by pouring out all the contents of your logophilic brain in one blog post. It is the fastest and most guaranteed way for a reader to lose interest.

What to do?

Lose the extraneous material. If your sentence still makes sense without it, cut it out.

Just—cut!

Suddenly—cut!!

Really—cut!!!

Keep your writing as simple as possible while switching up the lengths of the sentences to ensure variety. Conciseness is one of the easiest ways to achieve a brilliant flow.

Also, choose words that compel your reader’s mind into action, words that stimulate the senses. The constant appeal to their imagination will keep them hooked to every page. Word use is an intentional process.

3. Let your work show confidence

You title a book, How to Make Five Billion in a Week and the chapters are rife with ‘maybe’, ‘might’, ‘you should’, ‘you may’, ‘it could’. That, dearest writer, is unacceptable.

You write to let your readers know what you know; you want to inform or teach them. For your message to be compelling, your writing must be devoid of every form of doubt and vacillation.

This brings us back to word choice. Replace words that suggest probability with words that carry an air of finality without sounding highhanded. Write in a way that makes the words come alive to the reader. This helps them connect to you and the content on a deeper level.

Shine through every word.  Give your readers a peek into the wonders of your mind.

4. Be an avid reader

In the words of Joseph Addison, ‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’. This gives further credence to the fact that a writer should read, must read and has to read.

Writing and reading are like living and feeling—they go hand in hand. To develop a distinct voice in writing and speaking, you must read. Reading gives you diversity and weight. It enriches the quality of your work. Not to mention its profound effects on your grammar, vocabulary, and style.

If you will take no other advice, take this: Read.