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Writing is an essential component of learning. Everybody has a unique approach to the writing process. The trick is to find what process works for you and adapt it each time you write.
Composing essays and other writing assignments, such as term papers, research papers, dissertations, proposals, reports, etc., becomes easy when you understand the standard writing process.
Good writing entails developing ideas, organizing them into a cohesive, coherent, and clear format, and revisiting the work to polish it into a final draft, all part of the writing process.
Whether you are writing a blog post, discussion post or responses, book review, or grant proposal, you will work through the writing process to turn the ideas into a first or initial draft and then the final draft that you can either publish or submit.
Read this guide to comprehensively understand the six steps of the writing process so that you can do it again each time you are tasked with writing a paper.
Every writer often goes through several stages of the writing process to produce well-researched, organized, and plagiarism-free work that everyone reads and comprehends. While different sources might present a slightly varied version, the six essential steps of the writing process generally include: prewriting, planning and outlining, writing the first draft, revising, editing, and proofreading. Let’s explore each in depth.
The foremost step of the writing process entails brainstorming, planning, outlining, reading critically, taking notes, and gathering ideas and resources before you start writing.
The prewriting process is critical because it helps the writer focus on the topic, develop a thesis statement, title their essay or writing, and create a structure for their piece.
Brainstorming entails formulating ideas, planning ways to support the ideas, and finding ways to structure and organize the entire piece. You should also read widely as you take short research notes. The preliminary research will help you to develop a good thesis for your paper. At this stage, it is a preliminary thesis because you can refine it as you research further and write the paper.
Some commonly used techniques in this phase include freewriting, mind-mapping, or outlining to generate and organize the thoughts and ideas a writer develops.
Freewriting entails writing random thoughts and ideas that come to mind without discrimination, even when some are disjointed or out of place. You then can visually identify the ideas and select the best ideas and arguments that fit the context of your paper. The same can be achieved using mind maps to map out ideas you can use to support the thesis statement.
You can take 15-minute bursts of writing everything that comes to mind on the topic. Do this without worrying about the complete ideas, grammar, writing conventions and mechanics, grammar, and organization or order of ideas.
Reading critically can come in handy during this stage. Consider if a source is scholarly, credible, or peer-reviewed. You should also consider the scope of the paper and read to address the prompt or answer the research question. Take notes using physical notebooks, word documents, or software like Evernote or Trello.
Outlining the paper is a brainstorming technique you should never take for granted. Make a bullet-point list of the main ideas, supporting ideas, and facts (evidence). As you do so, ensure you revisit the assignment instructions to stay on track.
The second stage of the writing process is drafting. Assuming you have the preliminary thesis, title, and outline, you should focus exclusively on writing.
Because this is the first draft, focus on writing fast. Do not be concerned with editing, revising, and polishing the contents (drop your perfectionism mindset). Instead, this is the opportunity to get all your ideas and thoughts on paper.
Build up from words to sentences to paragraphs to the entire paper while following the structure in your outline or scaffold (essay plan). Paraphrase and cite every idea as you go. You should make connections and notice differences.
If you have an urgent deadline, write fast but take short breaks in between. However, if you have a longer deadline, make it a daily routine to write sections of the paper so that you are done before the deadline. Setting aside 30 minutes to an hour daily to write makes your writing process less overwhelming.
You don’t have to procrastinate or have writer’s block when you break down the larger chunk of writing into smaller bits that you can manage when you are productive.
Pick times when you are productive such as early morning, the afternoon, or the evening after everything has settled out. Besides, ensure you have a good place to write your essays and homework – it should be a distraction-free and ambient environment.
While developing the draft, hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress or sharing your writing goals with peers, colleagues, paper writing experts, or instructors.
Allow your creativity to flow, and don’t be overly critical of your work. You have room to refine everything later.
In a nutshell, here is what to do during the drafting stage:
Writing is an interactive process; draw from the outline and your notes whenever you are stuck. When drafting, try to use your creative side of the brain. Leave the detailed-oriented part for the next two sections. You can use the Pomodoro technique to stay focused.
Now that you have the draft, the next step is to review and revise the work. You can take a short break before settling down to revise everything. Usually, a typical writing project undergoes multiple revisions.
When revising, consider the experience of your readers. Read the entire paper critically as you make necessary changes to ensure the points flow well.
Check that you have the right topic sentences, supporting details (evidence from multiple sources to support the main idea in each paragraph), and concluding sentences that transition to the next paragraph. Check the citations to ensure that everything is okay and polished. As part of the revision, ensure that you:
Now that you have assessed everything and ensured that the points are flowing and that the paper meets the requirements, you need to check the paper for mechanical writing errors and clarity.
Editing helps you shape your first draft into a final draft. It is an integral part of the writing process.
You can hire a professional editor or depend on your peers, writing center personnel, and family members to catch errors in your writing. Ensure that you incorporate their feedback as you edit the paper.
You must read the paper multiple times to ensure that your writing lacks errors. Check that you have formatted your paper in the correct style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Oxford, Turabian). Also, ensure that your paper is spaced correctly.
After editing, you should proofread the final draft. This should be the last step of the writing process, marking the end of your writing. Although you are done, you can't entirely submit or publish the paper.
Proofreading helps you catch errors, mistakes, and omissions in your paper.
Reread your paper aloud to identify grammar, formatting, syntax, and incorrect structure errors. At this stage, you will not change your content; you cross-check everything to ensure the paper is grammatically, stylistically, and mechanically sound. Y
ou can do this after resting to have a fresh pair of eyes. You can use software such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Ginger, or any other software that corrects mistakes in written pieces.
Proofreading is the final check you do on a paper before submitting it for grading or publishing it to be read by an audience.
The final step of the writing process is to reflect on your writing. It is imperative to reflect on your writing experience. It is a critical aspect of growth and development for a writer.
Revisit your goals for writing. Check the previous feedback and if you have incorporated the recommended changes in the current writing.
You should also think beyond the paper and understand your writing style. After ensuring everything is okay, put the paper into the best format (Word document or PDF), and submit the paper.
Mastering the writing process is a perfect way to prepare for the many writing assignments in college and university. You can always be sure to produce excellent papers that are 100% original (non-plagiarized), well-researched, organized, and polished.
Getting started is always the most challenging part. But once you get the tempo, everything will roll and fall into place. Give yourself time to intimately and religiously follow the six steps of the writing process, from brainstorming to reflecting.
You should ensure that your thesis links to everything in the paper and that your conclusion restates it accordingly. When drafting, don’t overthink; let your creative juices flow. When editing and proofreading, pay attention to the details.
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