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Write, Revise, Publish, Repeat

by | Feb 20, 2024

A Solopreneur’s Guide to the Writing Process

Many people think good writers just sit down at their keyboards and tap away, and the piece of writing comes out the ends of their fingers onto the page, fully formed and complete. 


Newsflash- That’s not actually how it works! If you’re dashing off a quick check-in for your FB page, sure, it might happen like that, and it’s a good way to test out the interest in your topic (George Kao calls this Stage 1 Content)…but if you’re working on something with more weight, like a website page, or a blog post, using a writing process can be really helpful. 


One of the biggest issues I see when I work with solopreneurs on their copy or content is they get stuck somewhere in the writing process. You might call this writer’s block, or “encounters with the inner critic”…I call it stuck.

  • Some writers get stuck on the thinking and planning-what-to-write phase.
  • Some get stuck on revising.
  • For some, the editing process is endless.
  • And for many, the idea that a piece of writing is done, and you can publish it, is the sticky part.


And yes, this can even happen for people who like writing (myself included) when you approach a writing project without a plan. 


I see writing as a cyclical process, with each phase as distinctive as the seasons of the northern hemisphere. 


Using a cyclical writing process means that you can trust that a piece of writing will get published, eventually, because you won’t get stalled at the idea phase, or revise forever, or edit out all the awesome, instead of editing it in. Using a cyclical writing process means you’ll always know which step comes next, and will be able to trust that you know what to do, and when it’s time to do it.


If you want to learn more, and get help putting it into action in an embodied way, join me and my colleague Vix Anderton in March 2024, for our Get It Done: The Website Edition. 


Here’s a quick overview of each phase:

1. Pre-Writing (Spring)

Pre-writing is the phase most of us skip, but it’s actually the most potent form of writing you can do, especially for a larger writing project, like a website. 


Pre-writing is a hopeful activity, full of creativity, playfulness, and just a dash of strategy. You are planning what you will do, sketching out what will go where, and assessing the supplies on hand, just like getting ready to start a garden when the ground finally thaws out.


Imagine that instead of a garden, you’re planning to refresh your website this spring. Mine is in need of some love, so I am doing these things- 


Decide what your main idea/core message  is

  • Knowing your main idea, your core message, is a guiding force in the creative process. How do you find your core message? Try the “5  Whys” process, except instead of identifying a problem, use it to dive deep into the why of your business or a service you’re developing

Thinking, dreaming, imagining

  • Ideas from other sites I like, or dislike
  • List-making, planning ideas, outlining potential supporting content 

Mindset for communication with my “one reader”

What this can look like in practice:
  • Start a  new doc with a sketched outline, including the points I want to cover
    • Who am I writing for?
    • What do they want from me?
    • How do I give it to them?
    • What do they need to know in order to decide if they want to work with me?
    • What other questions might they have?
    • What are the details? 
  • Free-writing
    • Sometimes I do this by hand, with my morning pages, or as a mind-map
    • Sometimes I go directly to a doc and start writing whatever wants to come out
    • Sometimes I have a conversation with a friend during a co-working session that sparks my ideas
    • Sometimes I stop the car on the side of the road and record myself talking about things, and then transcribe it into written form


2. Drafting and Revising (Summer)

Through creating comes clarity.

This is the writing phase of the project, where you are taking ideas and turning them into sentences, paragraphs, snippets, and lists. 


The first draft isn’t supposed to be good. Get rid of that idea and things will flow much more freely for you.  

The drafting phase is where you

  •  Use your outline to guide your writing- this gives it structure
  • Write freely, without judgment 
  • Use writing prompts if you’re stuck for ideas (AI can be a great source of these). 


Revision is about getting the content “right”, making sure it’s all there and makes sense for your audience. 
What this looks like in practice:

My drafting process, for something specific like a webpage, looks like this:

  1. Answering all the questions I asked in the pre-writing phase
  2. Using AI tools to help me create writing prompts if I get stuck
  3. Circling back to remind myself of my core message 
  4. Letting it sit for a few hours (or days) before revising & editing


Then the revising process looks something like this:

  • Adding in details I missed the first time
  • Taking things out which don’t apply to the main idea I’m writing about
  • Playing with the form (bullets, numbered lists, short paragraphs, diagrams)

3. Editing (Autumn)

Editing is about getting the content ready. 

Editing is about the structure and mechanics of a piece of writing:

  • Sentence structure
  • Readability 
  • Spelling, grammar, word choice
  • “Active” voice
  • Using bullet points or numbered lists when it makes sense

I find using a systematic process helps keep me focussed, and avoid getting stuck in too many details:


The 3 Sweeps Editing Process

Sweep1: Content and Engagement Sweep

This sweep looks at the overall content quality, structure, and engagement. It focuses on how the content is organized, its relevance, how well it captures and retains reader interest, and its alignment with my core message. 

Sweep 2: Readability and Clarity Sweep

Here, the focus shifts to making sure the content is accessible and straightforward, emphasizing readability and clarity. This includes language use, sentence structure, and the overall presentation of information (like the use of headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs) to make the content user-friendly for web readers.

Sweep 3: Mechanical Accuracy Sweep

The final sweep deals with “mechanical editing”—grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency. This sweep focuses on consistent style and voice, which is critical for establishing credibility and professionalism in web content.


What this looks like in practice: 

I find there is lots of overlap between the revising and editing phases, and so also lots of opportunity to get stuck. To avoid this as much as possible, I use a series of checklists, and the final item on the checklist is this little statement: 

By completing this checklist, you can feel confident you’ve done everything necessary to refine your work. When you are done with this phase, the piece is considered “done”…Resist the urge to continually tweak and adjust your work! 

4. Winter: A Time to Publish!


Getting to the place of hitting publish can be the hardest part of all! Perfectionism and self-doubt can come crowding in, derailing even the most carefully constructed piece of writing. The act of letting a piece of writing “go” is an act of trust both in yourself, and in your intended readers. All the way up to this point, you are in control of the process, but now you have to let go and put the piece out into the world. 


Here are a few things that help me do this:

  • Feedback from trusted peers 
  • A solid deadline on my calendar for publishing posts on social media
  • The awareness that this is a cycle, and I can always pick it up again later on!
  • Trusting that by releasing a piece of writing out into the world, I open up space for the next one to start taking shape


I learn from every piece of writing I publish. When I begin writing, I don’t always have a solid plan in place….and even if I do, the act of creating itself often shows me a better, more robust way to present my ideas. I’m learning to trust that my words want to be read by others, and that through the process of creation, the clarity I have for my work in the world deepens. 

Hello, hello!

white woman in striped shirt laughing

I’m Susan

Wordsmith? Nope, more of a word nerd! I love writing about all kinds of topics, but especially DIY websites. Have a burning question about doing your own copywriting? Contact me at the bottom of this page; I’ll do the research and get back to you!

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