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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

The Writing Process | (A-Level, Basic)

Stage 1. Think

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Before You Start Writing

A mistake many people make is to start writing before they know what they are going to write. Especially if they do not have much time to write, they believe that they need to start right away.

When you start writing before you are ready, it actually takes longer to finish and your writing will not be very good.

Then what should you do?


Generate Ideas First

Before you start writing, spend some time thinking about what you are going to do. It is easier to have ideas when you know what you need to do.

  • What is the task (an email, an article for your blog, an assignment, a report for your job, and so on)?
  • Who is going to read it? (Do your readers already know about the topic? Do your readers need you to explain everything?)
  • What is your purpose (to tell a story, inform your readers, discuss a topic, and so on)?
How to Generate Ideas

There are many ways to generate ideas.

  • You can think and write your ideas on a piece of paper.
  • You can also discuss your topic with other people. Talking to someone helps you come up with new ideas.
  • Reading and learning about a topic can often inspire you to have new ideas.

How you generate ideas is not important. What is important is to think about ideas before you start writing.

Select One Good Idea

After spending some time writing down your ideas, choose one idea. Some ideas may be okay, but perhaps you do not have much to say about them. Other ideas may also be okay, but perhaps they are too complicated.

You may have one idea that is perfect for your writing. You have enough to say about it.

Decide on the Main Point

Sometimes people have many ideas for their writing, and they end up including everything in their paragraphs. Do not do that!

After thinking about your ideas and selecting one good idea, be sure you know what your main point is. If you generated ideas that do not go together with that main point, do not use them in your writing!

For example, let’s say you you generated ideas about traveling and decided to write about “my favorite vacation.” It is okay to include any ideas about your vacation, but it is not okay to include ideas about travel that are not really about your favorite vacation.

Plan Your Writing

After generating ideas and selecting one idea, it is important to plan your writing.

  • If you are writing a paragraph, how are you going to open or introduce it?
  • What idea will you present first. And next?
  • How are you going to close the paragraph?
  • Think about any other details (how long is it going to be? is it for publishing? is for printing? is it going to be emailed? and so on).

You also need to understand your readers (the people who are going to read your writing). What do you need to explain to them? What do they already know about the topic?

Examples with and without Thinking First

Example without thinking first

John needs to write a paragraph about what he does in his free time. He thinks, “I like listening to music in my free time!” He starts writing about it right away.

I like listening to music in my free time. I listen to music when I am tired because it helps me relax. I enjoy buying my favorite songs. I like pop and country music.

That’s it! John does not know what else to say. He gets frustrated. Maybe he will start saying things that do not really go together in his paragraph (like “I like pop and country music").


Example after thinking first

Mark needs to write a paragraph about what he does in his free time. Before he starts writing, he gets a piece of paper and writes two ideas: listening to music and photography.

In My Free Time

Listening to music

  • relax
  • buying favorite songs
  • ?
  • ?


  • creative
  • sharing photos (social media, friends)
  • time by myself
  • read about photography
  • discuss with other photographers

Mark is smart! Now he knows that it is not a good idea to write about “listening to music” because he does not have much to say about it.

He chooses “photography.”

He decides his main point is: “I enjoy photography in my free time for many reasons.” It's a very simple point, but he knows he has a lot to say about it.

Here is his paragraph:

I enjoy photography in my free time. Taking photos is creative and gives me time by myself. I enjoy sharing my photos later. I send them to my family and friends. It is fun to explain my photos to people. I also post my good photos to my Instagram. This way, thousands of people can see them. When I am not taking photographs, I learn about photography. I read photography books to help me be a better photographer. I also learn from other photographers.

Mark still needs to work on his paragraph a little, but it looks really good!

This is how you spend a little time thinking about your writing, but then you save time and are happy with it.


Up Next: Stage 2. Write

Continue the lesson to learn about the writing stage of the process.