Building Your Own Process

It’s important to keep in mind—when you’re reading the posts in this series—that this is just one way of approaching the drafting process. There are so many others. Casually browse the library’s shelves for advice about the writing process, and you might start to think that there are as many different approaches to writing as there are writers. I wouldn’t disagree. I hope you find some useful bits of advice here and they end up helping you shape your own process into one that works best for you.

Another thing to remember is that the approach I’ve described here privileges a script-driven story, rather than image. That is, I offer a strategy that assumes you’re going to start working on your story by writing the script first and then move on to the images. My own process generally takes this path, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the most productive way for everyone to start. I know at least a couple of storytellers who much prefer to start with the images they want to write about and then build a story around them. And their stories are outstanding.

Most often, the value of the process—for me—is to help make sense of something. Maybe something emotional. But it might also be something I’m just curious about.

More than anything, I want to encourage you to experiment with your own process. Reflect on what works for you. Take notes about your own habits. Stop those practices that don’t work for you. Keep cultivating and experimenting with the practices that do. Read more about other storytellers’ processes. Try some of their tactics. Keep tinkering. I even started keeping a checklist for myself a few years ago about some of my own bad habits. I have some pretty entrenched habits about how I begin my stories, how I use images. I also have to remind myself to keep from telling the audience what I want them to think. And I tend to forget to rethink my script once I’ve started working with the images. There are parts of almost every script I’ve written that need to be cut because the images make them unnecessary. Obviously, my own process is far from ideal, but it’s the best one I’ve got at the moment. Yours is too, so start making it better.

What’s the biggest change you’ve ever made to your own writing process for digital stories?