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The Writing Process

Updated: May 5, 2022

How do you approach the writing process? Do you come up with a plan first or jump right into writing? Here, I break down the stages of the writing process and go over some helpful tips.

Before you start... here are some reminders:

  • Save your work often.

  • Back up your files (use Google Drive, iCloud, external hard drive, etc.).

  • Do not delete old drafts. Save them and keep them organized by date.

  • Cite your sources as you write. Do not leave it until the end.

  • Use a reference manager like EndNote or Mendeley.

Stage 1: Pre-writing

Brainstorm: Before you start writing, you should brainstorm ideas about your chosen topic. You can make a list or a mind map. Don't worry about making it perfect. At this stage, you are looking for key words and ideas about your topic.

Research: Once you have some ideas about what you want to write about, you will need to do some research. Try to fill in any gaps that you may have missed during the brainstorming step. Make sure you keep track of your sources as you will need to cite them later.

Outline: Once you have some detailed ideas about the direction and content of your written work, make an outline. This will help you organize your ideas further and provide direction.

Stage 2: Drafting

Create a rough copy: Once you have a clear outline, you can start writing your first draft. Keep in mind that this draft will be revised and edited before your final submission, so do not be too concerned about making it perfect.

Stage 3: Revising

Revise, revise, revise: Once you have completed your first draft, you will have to go back and revise it. However, it is best to leave some time between your drafting and revising steps. It is harder to catch mistakes and think critically when you have been working on a paper for too long.

Before you make any changes, you should read your whole draft and identify areas that could be improved. You can take notes on your computer or you can print out your draft and do it by hand.

Remember that just because it makes sense to you, it doesn't mean it will make sense to your audience. Be critical when analyzing your work. Forget about what you meant to say and focus on what you actually wrote down.

Things to consider during the revising stage:

1. Clarity: Is your main argument/thesis statement clear? Are your supporting points directly related to your main argument/thesis statement?

2. Audience: Did you consider your audience? Did you provide enough background information?

3. Organization: Do your ideas flow nicely? Do you have to remove or rearrange any parts for it to make sense?

4. Orthography and Grammar: Are there any issues with grammar, punctuation or spelling? Is your terminology appropriate for your audience? Are you writing concisely?

Stage 4: Editing

Proofread: At this point, you have written and revised your draft and are ready to proofread and edit your work. Make sure you take a break in between stages though. If you don't, you may miss some errors.

Things to consider during the editing stage:

  • Read your revised draft out loud.

  • Do not rush. Read every word.

  • Check for typos. Do not rely on spell check software.

  • Make any additional grammar and spelling corrections.

  • Get someone else to proofread your work as well.

Writing is not a linear process You may have to go back and forth from step to step until you are satisfied with the quality of your work.

Stage 5: Publishing

Final copy: You are finally ready to share or submit your work!

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