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The Writing Process

The Writing Process

Author: Mackenzie W

Identify and define the stages of the writing process.

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Hi everyone. I'm Mackenzie, and today we're learning about the writing process. Have you ever sat down to write something, only to then realize that you have no idea where to start. The writing process helps us to figure out how to write a paper. And in this tutorial, we'll learn about the definition of the writing process. We'll look at the eight steps of the writing process. We'll take a look at an example of the writing process in action, and we'll discuss plagiarism.

We'll begin by discussing the definition of writing process. What I mean by writing process is a set of eight steps that we follow from start to finish when writing a paper. The steps are brainstorming, pre-writing, creating a thesis, researching, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. We'll talk about each of these steps individually in this tutorial. The thing to be aware of when it comes to the writing process is that it's what we call a recursive process.

And what that means is that even though we may complete each of the steps in that particular order, we have to go back and revisit some or all of those steps as we continue working on our piece of writing. We don't just complete every step in the process, and we're finished with the writing. We go back, we change our writing, and we improve our writing until it's finished. It's all part of the writing process. Now that we know what the writing process is, let's talk about the eight specific stages of the writing process.

When we begin writing a paper or any other piece of writing, we begin by brainstorming. Brainstorming is the first step in the writing process. This means that we come up with ideas for what we want to write about. We think about the reason why we're completing that particular writing. What is the purpose of the writing. That helps us to come up with ideas for what we want the topic of the paper to be. Then we move on to pre-writing. In brainstorming, we came up with a couple different ideas, and pre-writing helps us to select one of those ideas.

It helps us to create a focus, or a main point for the paper. We decide on one main idea, one topic that we want to use for our paper. Once we have our main focus selected for the paper, the main topic that we want to write about in the paper, we move on to the next stage, which is creating a thesis. A thesis is one single statement or argument that we're making for our paper. It really helps us to focus our ideas within the paper, and to decide exactly what the paper is going to say.

Next we can move on to the next stage, which is researching. Now that we wrote a thesis, we know what our goal is. What we're aiming for to communicate within the paper, and we can now research that idea. We find outside information to help us to have things to say in our paper. We have to evaluate the quality of those outside pieces of information, and decide what to include in that paper to support that argument or that statement we're making with our thesis.

Now we move on to the stage of drafting. This is when we start to actually write the paper from start to finish. We actually write down all of our ideas for the paper, based on what we researched for our thesis. The stage of drafting is important to keep in mind, because we will have to revisit this stage a few times depending on how you've written your paper. It's not enough to write the paper one time. We have to revise the paper, which is the next stage.

Revising is when we look at what we've written, and we decide if it could be better. Could our ideas be communicated in a more enhanced way. Could they be stronger. How do we make them better? We revise what we've written. We write it in a better way based on how we think we've communicated, and how well we've written our ideas. Now that our draft has been revised, we move on to the editing stage. This is when we think about how clearly we've communicated all of our ideas.

We think about the style with which we've written them. Is it clear? Is it understandable? Is it communicated in the way that we had intended for the reader to have interpreted the information? And once we decided that the writing is the way that we want for it to sound, we can move on to proofreading. This is when we look for small grammatical spelling and mechanics problems and we correct those problems. Because we want the reader to be able to read our ideas in our writing as smoothly and easily as possible, so that they understand our meaning behind our writing as easily as possible.

But the thing to keep in mind about the eight steps we just discussed is that we'll need to revisit some or all of them throughout the writing process. We don't just complete those eight steps in that order and the paper is completely finished. It's our job to reread the paper, revise, edit, and make sure that the paper sounds the way we want it to sound, and that it communicates the ideas we want it to communicate in that specific way so that we know that we are finished with the writing process.

Now that we know the steps of the writing process, let's look at an example of how the writing process works. We'll begin with brainstorming. Maybe the writing is an argumentative essay. Maybe I think about things that I feel passionate about, that I wish other people would agree with me about. I think about hygiene. Now I think about what type of hygiene. Maybe it's brushing one's teeth. Maybe it's hand-washing. Maybe it's sanitizing countertops and cooking surfaces.

Now I can move on to pre-writing. I'm going to choose hand-washing, because I think that there might be a lot of information about that topic. I have things to say about that topic. Now I move on to creating a thesis. Maybe I decide that the most important argument that I want to make when it comes to my topic of hand-washing is that individuals should wash their hands at least three times per day, to not only ensure their own personal health, but to contribute to better public health.

Now that I've got my thesis decided, it's my job to complete some research to find some information to support my argument. And I researched the topic, and I found that there was a variety of information from the Centers for Disease Control on their web site. I read that over a million deaths per year could be prevented if everyone were to wash their hands more often. This is a very compelling fact, and I'll incorporate it into my paper.

Now that I have my ideas gathered, my thesis decided, and some information researched about my topic, I can begin writing the first draft of my paper. Here are the ideas I put together so far. Now what I need to do is continue writing. I need to continue explaining my ideas in a way that the reader can understand, and appreciate my argument. Then once I feel like I've written all of my ideas, I move on to the last three stages in the writing process, which are revising.

Then I can move on to editing, and I can move on to proofreading. I had just mentioned that part of the writing process is researching during which we find outside information to incorporate into our own ideas and writing. Along with researching comes the concern of plagiarism. Plagiarism is when we present someone else's work as if it is our own, and this could be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes this is referred to as cheating. And it is cheating, because even if you didn't plagiarize on purpose, you're still causing a problem.

If you plagiarize for a class, you may fail the assignment. You might fail the class. Your instructor might be upset with you. You might be expelled from that particular school. If you plagiarize in a work setting, maybe you could be reprimanded. Maybe you could be fired, because in some instances, plagiarism is actually illegal depending on how and what you've plagiarized. It's important for us to keep in mind that plagiarism can be on purpose or accidental.

If it's on purpose, you know that you've taken someone else's work and presented it as if it's your own. Maybe you've copied and pasted a paper and submitted it as your own paper. That would be intentional plagiarism. But oftentimes, writers plagiarize on accident. The way that we do this is we don't give proper credit to those sources of information that we used in our own writing. It's important for us to know what plagiarism is and to know how to avoid it, because it is a serious offense, and it is something to be concerned about when we're writing.

In this tutorial, we learned about the definition of the writing process. We discussed the eight specific steps of the writing process. We looked at an example of the writing process in action, and we discussed plagiarism. There's a lot more to writing a paper than it may seem. I'm McKenzie. Thanks for listening.

Terms to Know

Techniques to generate thinking in order to clarify thoughts and ideas.


An iteration of a writing project.


Improving a piece of writing by focusing on issues of style, clarity, and redundancy.


Presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally


Techniques, including outlining or other organization strategies, for planning a writing project.


Information gathering with the goal of understanding and supporting an argument or topic.


Critically evaluating a writing project’s ideas, structure, and support and making relevant changes that improve the work.


In English composition, a single sentence that explains the main argument or point of a piece of writing.

Writing Process

A recursive approach to writing that accepts multiple, recurring steps including brainstorming, prewriting, thesis development, research, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading.