Put your story on paper

Happened to you, too? You’ve put together a great story in your mind and knew exactly what your readers or friends want to hear. Enthusiastically, you sit in front of your computer or a piece of paper and start writing … but what if the words don’t come out the way you intended and the final message isn’t even close to what you had planned? How do you transfer your thoughts to paper, so that the text works as a coherent message rather than just a stream of consciousness?

A drop of ink may make a million think. – Lord Byron

When in the role of a writer (whether writing for a client, promoting our own business, or writing a personal text), we are not given any instructions on how to compose our thoughts as an understandable whole. So we need to connect and improve the key communication points ourselves, even if the result seems uncertain and hazy at first.

Writing is thinking, and thinking is exhausting. Writing is also sending a message, and every communicator knows that sending a clear message is a pretty difficult job. If we want to add a bit of creativity to it, we can probably agree that writing can be a complicated thing, right? Since there isn’t a perfect writing strategy or process that works for everyone, let me present three strategies that may help you capture your racing thoughts in an understandable text.

Structured writing

In a book titled A Writer’s Coach, scriptwriter and writer Jack Hart recommends you start writing according to the so-called carpenter’s strategy. The carpenter always first assembles a wooden structure, which is then refined and completed. It could also be referred to as the potter’s or sculptor’s strategy – the key is to first compile the concept, the incomplete form of the text, and then to elaborate on the individual components (paragraphs) and finishing details (sophisticated sentences).

You can structure your writing by following these steps:

1. Find and select an idea for your text
2. Prepare key points or outline the text
3. Write a rough draft
4. Revise the coherence of content and individual paragraphs
5. Edit and improve sentence by sentence

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. – Isaac Asimov


Freewriting is similar to the stream of consciousness you are spilling out on paper. In this process, you simply start writing about a particular topic and write as quickly as possible without knowing how your text will end. Freewriting can help you when you’re experiencing a writer’s block, as it encourages creative thinking; we usually use it when writing journals.

The freewriting process is as follows:

1. Quickly writing down your ideas
2. Finding the essence or common thread
3. Critical content revision and key idea construction
4. Individual paragraph and sentence editing

This strategy is meant to increase creativity, since – in the words of writer Mark Levy – freewriting “pushes the brain to think longer, deeper and more unconventionally than it normally would. […] You could call freewriting a form of forced creativity.”

Everyone who writes knows the seduction of the narrative. – Bernhard Pörksen

The Knitter’s Method

While editing is the last thing done in structured writing and freewriting, with “knitting” we improve and perfect our content as we go. With this strategy we rewrite, evaluate, and readjust sentences over and over again after writing just a few of them – to see if the message is fully captured. This method seems a bit more convenient for experienced writers, since a beginner would spend a lot of time creating thoughtful paragraphs without knowing in advance where or how the message ends.

My favourite method? It depends mainly on the type of the text – when writing for clients, especially those with whom we have been working for a long time and already know them well, I go for structured writing in accordance with the agreed style. However, when the text is more personal and allows creativity, or when I have no specific starting points, I go for freewriting, with no pre-determined plan. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out as planned, which is not necessarily a bad thing – a more interesting and powerful message with an added personal touch is often developed while writing. Whatever strategy you choose, start simply by writing. Or as Stephen King puts it: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.


  • Hart, Jack R. 2006. A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work
  • Levy, Mark. 2010. Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content
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