In this lesson, you will take a broad look at the writing process, exploring its different stages and how they work together to produce essays. You’ll also discover how you can use the writing process to strengthen your communication skill. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
- Writing as a Process
- Stages of the Writing Process
1. Writing as a Process
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. Though we will primarily focus on persuasive writing, this process is useful for any type of writing.
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 projects. Using a writing process enables you to organize your thoughts and convey them clearly, strengthening your communication skill
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.
- A short piece of writing on a particular subject.
- Writing Process
- A series of steps that go into writing a successful essay or other writing projects.
2. Stages of the Writing Process
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 overall progression of steps:
- 2a. Prewriting
is a stage in the writing process during which the writer generates ideas and creates a plan prior to 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 key not just to developing interesting essays, but also to slaying the dragon of writer’s block. 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:
- Listing— writing down any ideas as they come
- Clustering— creating a map connecting your ideas and support
- Free-writing— writing down fully-formed thoughts about the topic
Doing this kind of brainstorming can lead to an outline, which is a crucial element of the prewriting stage. Outlining is like drawing a sketch of your essay where you plot out the images you’re going to draw on. You’ll have your main idea, usually in the form of a thesis statement, and then section summaries of what will become the body paragraphs of your essay.
- A stage in the writing process in which the writer generates ideas and creates a plan for the writing project prior to composing a first draft.
- The use of a variety of techniques to generate ideas and/or clarify thinking.
- The prewritten plan for an essay or other piece of writing that generally includes a working thesis, the primary ideas to be discussed, and the planned structural organization.
- 2b. Drafting
Once you’ve generated your ideas and outline in the prewriting stage, you’re ready to start 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.
Remember, just as it might take multiple layers of paint and many tries to get a picture-perfect painting, 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.
- The act of composing a piece of writing.
- 2c. Revising
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:
- Your ideas
- What kind of evidence and support you use
- The overall organization of your text
You’re then evaluating how well each of those things is working, and incorporating changes to form a new draft. This might happen several times as you go back around again and again to get the image perfect.
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.
When revising, you should always start at the thesis statement and ask whether it still matches the direction that the essay has taken, and then look at each individual paragraph’s examples to assess their connection to the main idea.
- The act of re-envisioning an essay or other writing project.
- 2d. Editing
After you’ve revised and generated a draft that you think has all the information it needs, it’s time for editing. Editing
is 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:
- How well each piece of language is working
- How clear your ideas are
- How precise your language is
- How effective your choice of words is
- How much variety you have in sentence length and structure
- Whether your sentences are all complete
- The act of improving the sentence construction, word choice, and the overall style of an essay or other piece of writing.
- 2e. Proofreading
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 leftover from when you were creating.
Proofreading helps you catch these last little errors before you’re ready to show your masterpiece to the world.
- The act of fixing errors in grammar, mechanics, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, commonly confused words, and formatting in an essay or other piece of writing.
The writing process enables you to communicate your thoughts clearly and directly. Prewriting gives you the opportunity to capture all the thoughts and ideas you have on the topic. By drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading, you put these concepts into a logical order and continue to improve how they are presented. For instance, if you were writing down an explanation for someone on how to make chocolate chip cookies, you’d want to explain the steps chronologically and provide clear instructions. This is using the writing process to create effective communications.
In this lesson, you learned that writing should be thought of as a process, not a product. Thus, there are several stages of the writing process that are important in creating a successful essay: Prewriting is the stage in which you lay out all of your ideas on paper in order to create an outline; drafting is the stage in which you compose your essay; revising is the process of re-envisioning and re-imagining your ideas; editing is the process of improving the language, sentences, and overall style of the essay; proofreading is the process of correcting any errors in grammar or mechanics. Finally, you learned how the writing process strengthens your communication skills.
Best of luck in your learning!