Steps in the Writing Process

Academic and professional writing is a process which involves a sequence of structured steps. Many inexperienced writers struggle because they treat writing as a single-shot effort in which a document is drafted all in one sitting. In reality, writin g involves much more than taking a pen (or computer) in hand and expecting the words to flow perfectly in an organized, focused manner. Most professional writers plan, write and rewrite multiple drafts of a document before achieving a finished product. Mos t importantly, effective writers understand the importance of developing an outline of ideas that helps guide and focus their efforts before beginning to write in earnest. Certainly the process is creative and personalized to the individual writer, but f ollowing a series of steps can help eliminate much of the frustration and difficulty many people experience.

In broad terms, the writing process has three main parts: pre-writing, composing, and post-writing. These three parts can be further divided into 5 steps: (1) Planning; (2) Gathering/Organizing; (3) Composing/Drafting; (4) Revising/editing; and (5) Pro ofreading. Each of these steps are outlined below, with links to more specific and complete information.

I. Planning

  1. Determine General Purpose
  2. Determine Appropriate Format
  3. Choose a Topic
  4. Write a Statement of Purpose

II. Gathering/Organizing

  1. Practice Divergent Thinking
  2. Practice Convergent Thinking

III. Composing/Drafting

  1. Write One Section of the Rough Draft at a Time
  2. Write Connecting Devices

IV. Revising/Editing

  1. Begin with Higher-Order Concerns
  2. Finish with Lower-Order Concerns

V. Proofreading

  1. Print a "Hard" Copy for Review
  2. Read Hard Copy Out-Loud
  3. Use "Cover Sheet" for Line-by-Line Review
  4. Get Feedback from Others