Note. This lesson is part of an advanced English-as-a-second-language course. To start from the beginning, go to the table of contents.
Overview of the Writing Process
In very simple terms, the writing process has three main stages: (1) Think, (2) Write, and (3) Polish. At each stage, you take a number of steps until you have completed your written product, whatever it may be.
There is nothing “magical” about these steps. They are simply a logical sequence of necessary events. One step flows into the next because it makes sense to do so.
Let’s examine these stages and steps.
Stage 1. Think
Before you can even start writing, you need a topic and a well defined idea, so your first step is to think about ideas for writing. Then you select your best idea to develop into a written product. You make sure your idea is not too narrow; otherwise, you will not have enough to write about. You make sure it is not too broad, either; otherwise, it will be unmanageable—unless you writing a book!
Once you have a well defined idea, the next step is to plan what you want to say. You can write a formal outline or jot down how you plan to walk the reader through your thinking or rationale. This way, you will have a path to follow when you are ready to start writing your paragraphs.
Stage 2. Write
As you write each paragraph, you must keep an eye on your plan. Paragraphs must be tied together coherently so that you walk the reader through your thinking. Your goal is for your readers to have a clear picture of your ideas as they read your work.
The most common way to organize your paragraphs into a coherent whole (though that is not the only way) is to have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You write an introductory paragraph to frame your ideas and introduce your central point (or your thesis); write paragraphs to support your central point; and finally, write a concluding paragraph to bring the whole product into focus.
Stage 3. Polish
Once you have a good first draft, it is time to improve it and “clean it up.” First, you revise your work by focusing on its substance. You make sure that your ideas clear, that logical argument is clear, that your ideas presented coherently. Your ideas may be clear in your mind, but the goal is to put yourself in your readers’ position and ensure that they will understand them.
Next, you edit your draft, focusing on the mechanics of writing, grammar, and style. You check your grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice.
Finally, you add any final touches to your work. It is important to check your work for other minor details such as how you format your document.
If you are writing your own blog or newsletter, you have much flexibility there. If you are completing a college essay, you must follow a predetermined formatting style.
Why Not Just Jump Right into Writing?
Following the writing process outlined above may seem like a great deal of stages and steps. Nonetheless, keep in mind that writing is a process, and processes take time. When you engage in the writing process, you end up saving time in the end because you work through your writing purposefully and methodically. If you just “jump right into it” haphazardly, you end up getting lost, making mistakes, having to rewrite your work, and so on.
Whether you are writing a short email or blog post or a longer article or college essay, the the idea of creating a written product can be intimidating. Sometimes you do not even know how to get started. By following the writing process, however, you know what you need to do from start to finish. The writing process breaks a seemingly enormous task down into more manageable tasks. You move through the stages and steps with intent. Sooner than you think, you will have completed your work.
Up Next: Stage 1. Step 1. Generating ideas
Continue the lesson to learn about the first stage in the writing process.
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