The Writing Process
The process used by an one writer will be different from the next. The writing process, however, always includes three stages of Prewriting, Drafting and Revision. The order, mode and priority of each stage may be unique to your style and to the specific task.
Before any writer's task is begun, ideas of purpose, audience, topic, organization and research are among the needs addressed.
Writers may elect to use various tools in service of these needs. Ideas for content are generated through concept maps, diagrams, journaling, free writing, discussion, and even note taking.
Some writers can feel levels of anxiety when at the prewriting stage, and these invention methods are often successful in breaking writer's block. Depending upon learning styles and preferences, writers may find that one type of invention activity is preferred among others, so it is important to try all types of invention.
Invention is not limited to the creation of a topic. When writing to communicate on idea, information or view, it is important that the writer identifies the purpose of communicating and the audience for whom the communication is intended. Otherwise, the drafting stage of writing can become needlessly confused, vague and unfocused.
When progressing from invention, it is time for ideas to become selected and organized in preparation for the drafting stage. Focusing the content of a single body of writing is dependent upon the audience's level of understanding about the topic and their needs.
Outlines create a skeletal frame for writers to reply upon for drafting. The outline can be a general sketch of a paper's structure or a formal outline following a specific format, such as the sample outline.
If research is involved for a writing process, then it needs to be initiated early in the writing process. Though beginning writers often put research off until the latter stages of the writing process, experienced writers learn that beginning research in the prewriting stage saves time and assures that what is written is in accordance with the information presented by experts on the topic.
Good research is contingent upon good organization skills. A writer needs to keep up with all sources both consulted and cited in a paper because of the need to reference information multiple time during the drafting and revision stages. Writers may choose to use a digital system for keeping up with sources, such as a software like EndNote or online tools like EasyBib. Others prefer to use a hands-on approach like the note card system. Even a custom system can be effective for keeping up with research. It is important to be sure that any system used does not possess flaws in citation guidelines.
Drafting is a conversion process in which all of the preparation work of the prewriting stage is expressed in the form of genre. Different genres are drafted in different ways. In a narrative, one may focus upon detail, while the synthesis centers upon the juxtaposition of two or more sources. The genre selected for a writing project is determined primarily by the purpose of the writing.
Specific details and the incorporation of support for your ideas is fully developed during drafting as well. Many writers choose to develop transitions during the drafting stage as well. Finally, some writers prefer to write introductions and conclusions at the drafting stage after the body of their writing project has been drafted. These elements are dependent upon the style of the writer. The next stage, revision, determines how a writer approaches these elements as well.
Revision is a point in the writing process that may take several turns along with drafting. After receiving a reader's feedback, a writer will need to make changes to another draft of the project before having someone else read it and offer further feedback and suggestions. Thus, drafting and revision could theoretically be completed and repeated indefinitely. Practically, a writer usually needs to repeat this part of the writing process a few times in order to create a quality product. Occasionally, revision results in returning to the prewriting stage when a reader helps you determine that one of the major traits of your paper, such as its genre, is ineffective.
Feedback from peers is vital to making the revision stage successful. Without a member of the intended audience giving his/her insight about a writing project, it can be difficult to make sure that the purpose is fulfilled. Peer review should help with the concerns of content, structure, style, and research among other elements.
It is a sound practice to save each revised draft as its own file so that if you need information from a previous draft or decide that an original idea worked better than its latter revision, you will be able to easily recall ideas.
Once revisions are made and changes to major traits of a writing project are complete, editing must take place as a diamond is polished after being shaped. Whereas revisions are easily guided by any peer reviewer, editing changes may require the assistance of someone who is knowledgeable about grammar. Of greatest importance during editing is to eliminate errors that hinder readability of a writing project. Fragments, run-ons, sentences, and other sentence errors can confuse and mislead future readers. A writer should strive to adhere to the rules of Standard Written English and make changes to a writing project accordingly.
During editing, it is also important to check the format of the writing project. Whether working in MLA, APA, Chicago or another format, it is important that the overall appearance of a writing project holds to required formatting conventions.
Publication takes place when a product of the writing process is shared with its intended audience. Publication can occur in a variety of forums as well as numerous times for a single product.
Whether a product is read aloud, published in a newsletter, or posted for display, it is considered published once it has been received by the audience for whom it was written. There are various ways to publish a product, especially online where writers can post to blogs or submit products to publication sites such as Helium.com.
The rewards of the writing process are often revealed at the publication stage, when readers of a product express that the purpose of a written project has been fulfilled. Whether through congratulation, discussion of the product, letters of thanks or a problem solved, writers realize the payments of their hard work at the publication stage.
Ms. Laura Padgett
Burton Center Director
Coordinator of Developmental Reading