The writing process is one of those things, like the process for any creative endeavor, that isn’t summed up in a single article nor is it a one-size-fits-all formula. Nor should there be. Part of what makes art so interesting is that it’s different for everyone. Sure there are some things, some processes that can help a lot of people, but it’s also very subjective and dependent on what each person’s goals are.
In art, while learning how to draw the human figure, there are a few artists who have books that are recommended most of the time and for good reason. Andrew Loomis’s Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth is one of these books. It’s one of the books I read while trying to grasp how to draw a figure convincingly. Loomis has, in his book, a very specific process for drawing the human body. From the head to the torso, from the fingers to the toes, he has a method that he built upon what he learned from his teachers as well as his own experiences with drawing and painting. This book and the methods therein, I know, have been extremely beneficial to many artist, especially those in the “fine” arts. I also know, however, that many successful artist have methods that differ greately from Loomis’s methods. A lot of these artists do comic art or game design or concept art, which is different from “fine” art.
This same idea can be applied to writing. There are tons of books about how to write a novel or a short story or a memoir, each valuable in its own way. But also, each of these how to books was written and edited by specific people with a specific mindset and skillset. Each writer, each artist, has his or her own reason for doing what they do, their own story that requires its own way of telling. Most of these stories are similar enough to benefit from similar methods of structuring and detailing, but there are also many need something else, something personal.
The best process, I think, for learning and growing a specific vocabulary that someone can implement for any creative endeavor would be experience, then study. Draw a duck without any reference, try your hardest to think of what duck anatomy is, how the bill connects to the head, where the eyes sit, where the legs attach to the torso. Then, after drawing for a while, look at reference, look for the anatomy that you missed. The same with a story, write write write, then go get specific reference. If your story is about a politician in the 70’s, write what’s in your head, then get reference.
The point of this excersize, and it really is just an excersize, is that it is much more engaging and makes remembering details much easier because anytime you write something or draw something, or just create something, you’ll get details right and you’ll get details wrong, so integrating what you already know with studying means that you’ll likely remember the little bits you don’t know.
Though I made this recommendation, and I hope it’ll be useful for some, it is another method for learning that’ll work for some, and not for others. It would be a good place to start, I think, for those who are having trouble remembering and applying what they study.