You likely have experienced moments of writer’s block, haven’t you? It is when your mind freezes, and you do not know where to start and what to write. All of us, even seasoned writers, experienced these awkward moments. In fact, ideas come out of the blue; however, how to approach the topic ideally and deal with those ideas are the challenging parts. The writing process helps you meet these challenges efficiently.
Being passionate about a topic that you choose to write about motivates you to write faster. It also helps you bring more creative ideas. But what about a topic that you are not really passionate about? That is why writing is not just a talent or a hobby. It needs special skills that help make writing easier.
Whether you are a student who wants to submit his/her writing assignment and get an “A” or an aspiring young writer who wants to develop his/her writing skills, this article is for you! We will provide you with the writing process definition, explain its stages, present its benefits, and show how to avoid writer’s block.
Writing Process Definition
Writing is a process that is divided up into several steps. Following these steps makes writing easier for you. Each writer has their own steps in writing. However, there are five essential steps for the writing process that each writer should use. They are prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and submitting/ publishing. In this article, we will explain each step of the writing process in detail so that you “make every word tell.”
Writing Process Objectives
First, let’s know what the writing objectives are. The writing objective or purpose is the aim or the goal of a piece of writing, including a paragraph, a report, a story, a research paper, or any other form of writing. You can use several purposes when you communicate your ideas in writing.
The first purpose is informative writing. You write essays, presentations, and research papers to provide information and explain something to the reader. It does not include your opinions.
Argumentative writing is another writing purpose. You write about a debatable topic and present all points of view. Similar to informative writing, you end up your piece of writing without showing your points of view.
Additionally, persuasive writing is the process of writing cover letters, copywriting, essays, presentations, speeches, and research papers about debatable topics. Unlike argumentative writing, you try to persuade the readers to agree with your points of view in this piece of writing. This is by providing statistical evidence (i.e. studies), testimonial evidence (i.e. quotes from experts), anecdotal evidence (i.e. personal experiences of interviews), and textual evidence (i.e. paragraphs from books and reliable sources).
Another writing purpose is expository/ expressive writing. You use expressive writing to express yourself. For example, you write emails, blogs, or posts on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to express your opinions. It also includes writing How-to or explainer articles, FAQs, textbooks, technical/ business writing, and training materials.
There is also descriptive writing. Using simile and metaphor, it is used when you describe a person, a place, an object, or an event. You use relevant details to paint a picture with your words. Your way of description captures the reader’s attention and forms a picture in their mind. Descriptive writing includes copywriting (describing products), song lyrics, poems, memoirs, and short stories.
The last writing purpose is literary or narrative writing. It is a form of creative writing that you use to tell fiction or nonfiction stories. It should involve a plot, a climax (a problem), characters, a specific setting (a certain time and place), and other story elements. Narrative writing includes writing plays, short stories, novels, poems, creative essays, and other literary forms.
The writing process will help you identify your purpose of writing.
Why is Writing Considered a Process?
In fact, writing is considered a process because it occurs when you follow specific steps and stages: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and submitting. It involves not only a final well-formed piece of writing, but also skills, steps, and practices. On the other hand, it measures your learning process and assesses your thinking skills.
Writing Process With Playdough
The writing process is similar to moulding a figure out of playdough; You should follow a precise method in both. Creating a sculpture with playdough is a strong visual of the writing process. Now, forget about writing and its process. Let us focus on creating a wonderful playdough sculpture. It is important to write the name of each step on a sticky note.
1. First Step:
On a sticky note, write down two or three of your favourite fruits or animals (You can draw them if you like drawing). Next, consider your audience who will view their masterpiece when it is finished. They might be your parents, teachers, siblings, or friends. Ask them for inspiration. In this step, you are brainstorming as many ideas as possible. Now, pick up only one choice and get ready to mould your figure.
2. Second Step:
Next, take a small piece of playdough with a colour of your choice and start moulding. Do not worry about adding details. Just make a rough outline. You are creating your first draft.
3. Third Step:
Then, show your playdough figure to your parents, teachers, siblings, or friends and ask for their feedback. Improve your playdough figure according to their suggested comments. Additionally, look at your playdough figure and think of what you need to fix to improve your figure. You can rearrange the parts of the figure and add the missing details, like the nose, the ears, the leaves, the seeds, etc. In this step, you focus on revising your work and making it better.
4. Fourth Step:
This next step focuses on evaluating your playdough figure and making it even better. Improve each part of it and make it as perfect as possible. Also, ask your parent, teacher, sibling, or friend to check it and tell you what they like and do not like. Then, improve your playdough figure as suggested. Do you know what you have done in this step? This step is like editing. You put the last-minute fixes to your playdough figure before publishing.
5. Fifth Step:
Well done! You have completed your playdough figure, and it is time to share it with others. Show off your amazing creative work to all your family, friends, or teachers. You can also take a photo of it and publish it on your social media accounts.
Look at the sticky note where you have written the steps of moulding a playdough sculpture. Now, let us compare it with the writing process steps.
The Writing Process Steps
Similar to the process of moulding a playdough figure, understanding the writing process, or the writing cycle, is essential. It provides you with a straightforward step-by-step procedure that you can follow to produce a clear polished piece of writing. Following this set of steps, you will sufficiently plan your ideas and then come up with a well-organised piece of writing without spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. However, before you start, make sure the place you are sitting in is quiet and without any distractions to help you focus on your writing. Now, let’s explain each step in the writing process in detail.
1. Writing Process: Pre-Writing
The first and most critical stage in the writing process is prewriting. It covers anything you do before you begin writing your first draft. It includes brainstorming, outlining, creating anchor charts, and gathering information through research and discussions.
a. Writing Process: Brainstorming
Brainstorming is the first thing you can do in the prewriting stage.
- Ask yourself questions like:
What do I want to write about?
What is the question I am going to answer in this piece?
What do I want to educate my audience (target readers) about?
What are my points of view about this topic?”
- Make a bulleted or numbered list with your answers to these questions.
- Alternatively, write a journal by jotting down anything that comes to your mind about this topic.
- If you love the visual style of learning, create a chart, a web diagram, or a graphic organiser (knowledge map).
b. Writing Process: Planning
Now, time for planning!
- Firstly, narrow down your broad topic and decide what points you want to discuss in your piece of writing and what facts support your main topic. Omit unnecessary facts and ideas. Then, organise the ideas you developed in the brainstorming stage and decide in which order you would like them to be.
- Secondly, make a rough outline by identifying your main ideas.
- Thirdly, identify your audience carefully. You can answer this question:
To whom do I want to write this piece of writing? and who is my audience?
- Fourthly, identify your purpose; your aim/goal for this piece of writing. Answer the following questions, and you will decide what your purpose of writing is:
Do I want to create a fantastic piece of art?
Do I want to persuade someone about something?
Or do I just want to express my opinions?
Do I want to provide information and explain it to my readers only?
Or do I want to raise a debate about a specific topic?
- Fifthly, choose your genre; your stylistic category or type of writing. Answer this question to know the answer:
What is my writing style? Is it narrative, descriptive, expository, persuasive, informative, or argumentative?
- Finally, develop a thesis statement, the central idea of your paper. You should state your point directly and clearly in one or two sentences. Make the sentences simple, and do not write unnecessary words.
The thesis statement should cover what you will discuss in your piece of writing only. Your piece of writing should, then, contain specific evidence to support your points.
c. Writing Process: Research
After planning, it is time to do your research.
- Gather valuable information about your topic from the libraries.
- Also, collect useful information from reliable sources on the internet. The most common credible sources are government agencies (.gov), professional organisations (.org), educational institutes (.edu), peer-reviewed journals, books, and conference papers. Major newspapers and magazines can also provide credible information.
- Listen to interviews with experts on TV and broadcast about your chosen topic.
- Read or listen carefully to the information and jot down the most important points in a bulleted or numbered list or your journal.
d. Writing Process: Anchor Chart
This step is optional. You can create an anchor chart to help you focus your writing.
- At the top of your paper, write an objective, for example, Benefits of Writing Process.
- Then, add the outline you have created in the planning stage.
- Next, write titles and headings.
- Finally, add your input under each title.
e. Writing Process: Drawing
If you like drawing, you can support your writing with a picture of your own drawing about your chosen topic. Then, label it by writing a creative sentence.
f. Writing Process: Images
If you do not like drawing, you can search for an image that relates to your topic. However, take care! You can only use copyright-free photos. You can download these images from free websites, like Pixabay, Unsplash, or other websites with royalty-free photos.
If you like designing, you can create an image using Adobe Photoshop or Canva. Please note that adding a photo to your piece of writing is not mandatory; it is an optional choice, too.
2. Writing Process: Drafting
Now, you are ready to start the second stage of the writing process: drafting your essay. Also called the writing stage, drafting is when you start writing sentences and sorting your ideas into paragraphs. Remember that you can write more than one draft! Do not worry!
a. Writing Without Stopping
Write every idea that leaps into your mind about this chosen topic. The organisation of your piece of writing at this stage is not important. What is important is to provide strong details that support your thesis statement. You can use the dictionary to find different words to express yourself. Do not worry about the mechanics of your piece of writing, too. So, do not worry about grammar, spelling, and punctuation at this stage. Just let your ideas flow.
b. Using SASE Approach
You can use the SASE approach while drafting. It is an easy approach to critical reading and writing. The acronym stands for Summarise, Analyse, Synthesise, and Evaluate. Use it after reading about the topic or gathering your ideas to demonstrate your ability.
So far, you have listened to and read a lot about your chosen topic. The first step you have to do in the writing/drafting stage is to write a summary. Summarise all that you have read in a few lines.
The next step is the analysis. Analyse the texts you have read. You can break it into fair chunks and identify its main ideas. Furthermore, unriddle the hidden meanings behind the author’s text or ideas and then identify their purpose, assumptions, and inferences. At this step, try to distinguish facts from opinions because it is an essential factor in critical reading and writing.
Next comes synthesis. Synthesise what you have read so far. Synthesising a text is the process of recalling previous events or knowledge and relating it to newly learned information. Combining the old with the new ideas broadens your horizon and evolves your understanding of a text. Additionally, it makes you aware of how your thinking about a certain topic changes.
Finally, it is time to make judgments and form your opinion. Evaluate the text by relating to the expert ideas and your own ideas and then combining both. You can agree, extend, or disagree with the author’s points of view. If your opinion opposes that of the author, explain why you disagree with this piece of information, mention your points of view, and illustrate them.
3. Writing Process: Revising
What comes after drafting is the revising stage. Your focus here is on refining your piece of writing.
a. Setting the Right Environment
Before you start revising your piece of content, make sure to:
- Set your piece of writing aside for a couple of hours or days to have fresh eyes.
- Keep away any distractions. For example, turn off the TV and the mobile phone.
- Then, read your paper out loud to find any imperfections.
b. Making Changes to Your Content
When you read aloud, you will:
- Find repetitive words and look for other word choices.
- Remove some sentences that your piece of writing sounds better without them.
- Add more ideas or definitions to your piece of writing to make it straightforward.
- Simplify your content to make your sentences clearer.
- Reorganise your ideas, if needed.
c. Using Transitions
Using transition or linking words is also necessary and powerful. Transitions connect two sections, paragraphs, or sentences; they show that sections, paragraphs, or sentences are related to each other and the main theme. They also make your writing flow, and your ideas lead to the next smoothly. Your readers will feel that your text is natural and nothing is missing.
There are several types of transitional expressions:
Use these transitional expressions to add support or evidence to your piece of writing. They include:
And, also, as well, besides, additionally, in addition, further, equally important, furthermore, moreover, then, again.
To add an example, use:
For example, for instance, to illustrate, namely, specifically.
Use the following transitional expressions to write something in order. You can use these patterns:
- First, second, third,…
- Next, then, finally.
To talk about time, use the following time transitional expressions:
Now, then, at last, after, before, later, earlier, currently, recently, during, immediately, meanwhile, afterwards, simultaneously, subsequently.
To compare things that are similar or alike, use these transitional words:
Similarly, in the same way, likewise, also, just as….so too.
However, if you compare things that are not alike or similar, use the following transition words:
But, however, yet, still, in contrast, despite, in spite of, on the contrary, nonetheless, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on one hand….on the other hand.
Use the following transitions to emphasise something:
Of course, in fact, indeed, even, truly.
To mention the position of something, use:
Above, below, beyond, in front of, behind, on the left, on the right, in back, near, nearby, there, adjacent.
Cause and Effect
If you want to say that something is a result of something else, these transitions are helpful to use:
Accordingly, consequently, therefore, thus, hence, so, as a result of.
Finally, if you want to summarise what you have written or write your conclusion, you can use one of the following transitional words:
In conclusion, in the end, in a word, in a short, in sum, in summary, in brief, briefly, to sum up, to summarise, to conclude, in the final analysis, finally, thus, on the whole.
d. Adding Adjectives
In this step, you can improve your writing by adding adjectives to describe the situation, the persons, and the objects.
e. Asking Questions
To ensure you are developing and supporting your thesis statement, keep asking yourself questions while reading. Thes questions may include:
- Do I have a good thesis statement?
- Are my ideas supported by evidence?
- Am I sharing strong and enough details?
- Should I include more information?
- Or should I take some information away?
- Are the connections between ideas made explicit?
- Is my writing concise and accurate?
- Is the text organised effectively?
- Have I written in a convincing manner?
- Have I written it in an interesting way?
- Have I provided enough details to help the readers visualise the content (If you use the creative/literary style)?
After you revise and edit your draft, you can ask your peer, teacher, or parent to evaluate it and provide feedback. Then, act upon the feedback and make any necessary improvements.
4. Writing Process: Editing and Proofreading
In this stage, you make the finishing touches to improve the quality of your writing. You have looked at the big picture of your piece of writing. Now, look at the small picture. Try to find grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes and correct them. This step deepens your understanding of grammar and develops your editing and proofreading skills.
a. Using Stationery Supplies
To facilitate editing and proofreading, you can use different techniques and items.
- Take your time to be accurate.
- Use coloured or highlighter pens to mark mistakes.
- Do not use autocorrect programmes if you write on your computer or laptop. Print your draft on a piece of paper and start editing.
- Use a checklist to make sure you edit all things.
b. Writing Process and Mechanics
It is important to look over the mechanics of your piece of writing. Break it down into manageable chunks. Then, check each of the following items in each chunk.
Reading aloud is one of the secret weapons that allows you to spot grammatical mistakes. You can check that:
- There are subjects in your sentences.
- Subjects and verbs agree with each other.
- You use the verb tenses of each sentence correctly.
- You use the active and passive voices correctly.
- You use the first, second, and third persons in the right way.
- There are no run-on sentences: You connect two or more independent clauses properly.
- Also, check the syntax: the arrangement of words and phrases within a sentence.
Next, check for any typos or misspellings in your words.
- Make sure that you have accurately written the vowel pairs. They are the two vowel letters that come together and make just one sound (i.e. four, piece, and bread).
- Take care of homophones, words with the same pronunciation but different spellings, like sea and see.
- Check for any typos in high-frequency words, such as “it,” “the,” “as,” and “and.”
Then, capitalise the following:
- The first letter in the first word in each sentence.
- The pronoun “I” no matter where they fall in a sentence.
- All proper nouns. A proper noun is a specific person, place, or thing.
- Days and months. (i.e. Friday, 17 July 2022).
- Nationalities and languages (i.e. British, Egyptian, and German).
- Job titles when they come immediately before a name (i.e. Queen Elizabeth).
- Job titles when they replace the use of a name (used as a direct address, i.e. the President).
- Job titles when they come on a signature line of a letter.
- Directions when they refer to specific regions (i.e. South Africa).
- The first letters of book titles, movies, and publications. However, do not capitalise small words with three or fewer letters (i.e. McMahan’s Literature and Writing Process).
- The first letter in the first word in quotations.
- Specific course titles (i.e. Maths, Science, and Geography).
- The first letter on the first word of every line of a poem, such as:
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a diamond in the sky.
Using punctuation marks while you write is essential. Punctuation organises your thoughts and helps you share your ideas. Here are a lot of punctuation marks that you can use in your piece of writing and when to use them:
- Full stop: use it at the end of a sentence(.)
- Comma: use it to separate three or more items in a series. You can also use it to set off quotations and before the word “too.”
- Apostrophe: use it to show possession (i.e. My friend’s pencil).
- Question mark: When do we use a question mark(?) We use it at the end of a question.
- Exclamation Mark: Do you know when we use an exclamation mark? Wow(!) You are wonderful(!) We use it to express strong emotions and feelings. It usually comes at the end of an interjection or exclamatory sentence.
- Inverted comma: use it to mark a quotation or the exact words of a speaker (i.e. Mother said, “Congratulations! You have passed your test.”).
If you will submit a paper typed on the computer or publish a piece of writing online, checking its format beforehand is a necessary step in the writing process. Check the following:
- Double-space: Check if you have mistakenly placed double space between two words and remove one.
- Headings and subheadings: Place headings and subheadings correctly.
- Captions and labels: Check if the captions and labels are in the right places.
- Alignment: You can justify your text on the page or align it to the left, right, or centre.
- Font: The font should be consistent all over the text.
5. Writing Process: Submitting/ Writing Process: Publishing
Bravo! You have made it! Here comes the final essential step in the process: sharing your piece of writing. Before submitting/ publishing your final copy, there are a few items you should check:
- Reread your piece of writing to ensure that it sounds its best.
- Write or type a neat final copy.
Now, you are ready to submit your writing assignment to your teacher for marking. You can also publish your piece of writing online (i.e. your personal blog) or in print (i.e. school magazine).
Is the Writing Process Linear or Recursive?
The writing process is recursive. In the beginning, you may follow the steps in a linear fashion. Then, when you revise your piece of writing, you might jump back to the prewriting step to develop your ideas. That’s why writing is a recursive process.
Benefits of The Writing Process – How Does the Writing Process Help Students?
The writing process is important for you because it helps you plan and organise your ideas and write fast. The writing process has many other benefits. Here are some of them:
1. The Writing Process Allows You to Learn More
When approached the right way, writing helps you assimilate and consolidate what you have read; otherwise, you will forget soon. With the writing process stages:
- You understand how to read a text deeply to evolve your understanding.
- You learn how to utilise your skills to deeply analyse the text you have read and form your opinion.
- You also learn how to combine expert ideas with your points of view and write a piece that reflects your own beliefs.
2. The Writing Process Makes You More Productive
Furthermore, planning and setting your goals before writing increases your production. The writing process saves you time as it makes you write a huge number of words in a short time.
3. The Writing Process Reduces Your Anxiety and Stress
Moreover, breaking your writing task into several manageable parts reduces your anxiety and stress. You will not eliminate your fear, but you will keep it at a manageable level. For example, you will not struggle to write your first draft if you generate ideas (brainstorming step) and then organise them in a rough outline (planning). You will also find that writing is easier and takes no time.
4. The Writing Process Improves the Quality of Your Writing
Breaking your task into separate parts will definitely increase the ultimate quality of your draft. For instance, if you have small parts and focus on each part individually, you will reduce your anxiety and stress, thus reducing mistakes.
5. The Writing Process Helps you Communicate With Clarity
Unlike talking, the writing process helps you communicate complex ideas more effectively. This is because you will use more sophisticated expressions and words to describe what you have in your mind. Additionally, you will follow certain steps to organise your piece of writing.
6. The Writing Process Develops Your Editing and Proofreading Skills
One of the benefits of the writing process is that it allows you to focus on editing and proofreading, which are always overlooked. It encourages you to have a keen eye for detail and be aware of what you are writing. By practising a lot, editing and proofreading will become your habit in all your future writing tasks, thus increasing the quality of your writing.
7. The Writing Process Allows You to Make Better Decisions
The writing process helps you write your thoughts. The more you write, the clearer your mind will be. A clear mind will help you make better choices and reach better decisions about your chosen topic.
8. The Writing Process Allows You to Gain Awareness of Your Reality
Writing down how you feel and what is in your mind is also beneficial. It allows you to explore your reality and realise who you are. Besides, you will be more focused when you brainstorm and plan your task before writing. You will discover what you want to achieve in your life. Your dreams and goals will always be in your sights.
9. The Writing Process Makes You Happier
In light of the above, the writing process makes you happier. This is because you will reduce your anxiety, evolve your understanding of the topic, and explain complex ideas clearly. Therefore, you will perform faster, produce a high-quality piece of writing, and be aware of your reality.
Writing is Like… | Using Metaphors to Explore the Writing Process
We often use metaphors in writing to add spices to our writing pieces. What about metaphors about writing? A metaphor means a figure of speech in which you compare two normally unrelated things. Using metaphors will clearly explain the writing process and experience.
Writing is like the construction of a house. You cannot build a house without a blueprint and, of course, you cannot create an excellent piece of writing without following the writing process. A strong foundation of a house is like a strong thesis statement. Also, building the structure of the house is similar to following the SASE approach. Finally, painting a house, cleaning it up, installing basic utilities, and putting furniture are like polishing and editing your piece of writing. Now, the house is ready to be sold, and the piece of writing is ready to be published.
Writing is also like cooking. You must follow a recipe to have a delicious dish, and you must follow some steps to write a masterpiece.
Additionally, writing is like surfing. A surfer waits for the right wave to ride in; however, a writer waits for the rush of emotion and courage to continue writing.
In the writing process, brainstorming is similar to mining. While a miner digs for gold, diamond, or coal, a writer digs for ideas and information.
Moreover, editing a piece of writing is like a puzzle. To solve a puzzle, you should have a sharp eye. Similarly, in editing, you should have a sharp eye to spot any punctuation, spelling, and grammatical mistakes.
Writing Process Quotes
Here are other quotes about the writing cycle:
“There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”–Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
You probably know Stephen King, the American author of horror, crime, fantasy, supernatural fiction, and science-fiction novels. In his On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he explains the writing process and describes his experience in writing to inspire junior writers.
“I never use a word if I can avoid it, but if I must have it, I know it.”–Hemingway once said about the writing process in a letter to Max Perkins.
“Good writing is like a windowpane.”–The famous writer George Orwell.
Orwell means that writing is a window to the world. It shows us things that we have not learnt or known anything about before.
Another quote about the writing process is:
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”–E. L. Doctorow.
“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell.”–William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style.
The Writing Process Quiz
Are you ready for an easy-peasy quiz?! You can share your answers with us in the comments below. Here is the quiz:
A. Put the following steps in the correct order:
B. True or False:
- The writing process helps us plan out our writing.
- Drafting means coming up with a lot of ideas.
- Editing is supposed to clean up and polish your piece of writing.
- The last step in the writing process is proofreading.
- Submitting your piece of writing comes after editing and proofreading.
- The writing process stage that focuses on correcting spelling, capitalisation, and punctuation is revising.
C. What are the basic steps of the writing process?
D. What is writing like for you? Explain your answer (your metaphor).
Writing is a prosperous process. When you follow the previous steps, you will find that writing is straightforward and effortless.
Always remember what Winston Churchill said in his shortest and most memorable commencement speech, “Never, never, never, never give up!” They say, “easy come easy go.” So, what you really want to succeed in will never come easy.
You are smart and creative, and you can express yourself competently! Do your best, and you will surely achieve your goal. Good luck with your next writing assignment! I am sure you will do great!