The skills you use to write well-crafted sentences and paragraphs can in turn be used to develop essays, or short pieces of writing on a particular subject.
That means that essays are made up of paragraphs. Turning those paragraphs into essays means going through the writing process, which is a series of steps involved in completing a successful essay or other writing project.
It’s important to remember that writing is a process, not a product, and you won’t necessarily move in a straight line. Instead, you’ll start and stop, move forward and back, finish and begin all over again.
That’s part of what writing is about, and learning these steps will help you embrace the recursive nature of writing.
The series of steps that make up the writing process is going to be a little different for every writer. However, the overall process will follow the same pattern and go through the same general progression of steps:
Prewriting is a stage in the writing process during which the writer generates ideas and creates a plan before composing a first draft. In other words, this is the stage where you get to let your mind do its work, generating and organizing a whole host of ideas about your topic.
Letting yourself spend some time thinking through your opinions on and interests in a topic is important not just to developing interesting essays, but also to avoiding writer’s block— that period during the writing process when our ideas suddenly seem to stop. As such, brainstorming often occurs prior to, or as part of, this stage.
There are a few prewriting/brainstorming games that you can play with yourself, such as:
Once you’ve generated your ideas and outline in the prewriting stage, you’re ready to start the writing stage by drafting. Drafting is the act of composing a piece of writing; it’s where you get to take your sketch and fill in the details.
The first draft will not be perfect, nor should it be. Rather, it is a place for you to get all your ideas out so that you have somewhere to start when you return to revise it later.
Remember, just as it might take multiple layers of paint and many tries to get a picture how you want it to look, so too will it likely take multiple drafts before your ideas are ready.
This is ultimately a good thing, because every draft you build makes the final draft that much better.
Revising is the act of re-envisioning an essay or other writing project; it’s the stage where you look at the big picture of the whole essay.
That means you’re re-seeing:
This is because you are rethinking the thoughts that you’ve already put on paper, reorganizing and reconsidering what you want to say and how you want to say it, and rewriting and refining your words so that the text matches the overall big picture of your piece. Think of it like polishing a jewel; the beauty is already there, but now you’re making it shine and smoothing out the blemishes. It is the revision process that creates high-quality writing.
After you’ve revised and generated a draft that you think has all the information it needs, it’s time for editing. Editing involves improving the sentences, word choices, and overall style of an essay or other piece of writing.
In your last step, you looked at the big picture; here, you’re zeroing in on the brush strokes that make up that picture. You’re going to look really closely at the language you use and how clear it is, so you should have already completed the revision of the big picture.
When you edit, you’re looking for:
Once you have a draft that you’ve revised and edited so that its language and ideas are the best they can be, you can start proofreading. Proofreading means fixing errors in grammar, mechanics, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, commonly confused words, and formatting in an essay or other piece of writing.
This is the step where you clean up your work and make sure that it’s ready to be seen by its audience without any smudges or messes left over from when you were creating.
Proofreading helps you catch these last little errors before you’re ready to show your masterpiece to the world.