The Essay Writing Process

Writing is an acquired skill which is learned through practice and hard work.  The procedures that writers follow, their writing process, varies from writer to writer and from task to task.  Additionally, the writing process is not a linear, step-by-step procedure, but a recursive method in which the writer often changes his mind, rewrites, reorganizes and rethinks his strategies before producing a text.  However, some areas that all successful writers turn their attention to are pre-writing, writing, and revising.

Stage 1:  Prewriting consists of:

bulletgenerating ideas, including reading and research
bulletestablishing purpose
bulletidentifying audience
bulletordering ideas

During the prewriting stage, writers scribble notes, make lists, and some write pages and pages of sentences because they are capturing the ideas.  For the kinesthetic learner, this stage is demanding and usually the writer produces a great amount of text.

Stage 2:  Writing consists of:

bulletcreating body paragraphs following the pre-writing order
bulletcreating introductory and concluding paragraphs

During this stage, the writer reads over all the text and chooses the ideas, sentences, and paragraphs that best express the concepts to be included in the essay.  For many writers, this means paring down the text produced in the pre-writing stage, sometimes by half or more.  Usually many of the ideas and sentences produced in the prewriting stage just don't work in the final essay, so they are discarded.  This is also the organizational stage where the writer makes decisions on the best order for the ideas.  Most writers create their introductions and conclusions at this stage.  Doing so ensures that the content of the introduction and conclusion accurately frame the ideas in the body paragraphs.

Stage 3:  Revising consists of:

bulletrewriting from the reader's point of view
bulletanalyzing and changing paragraph and sentence organization
bulletassessing content and clarity for effective communication
bulletediting to improve word choice, grammar, usage, and punctuation
bulletproofreading for typos and surface errors

At this stage, the writer has to shift focus and try to see the text as a reader will see it.  This can be difficult unless you can put the text aside for a while and then go back to it and read with a fresh perspective. The writer focuses on clarity for understanding, and, lastly, the mechanical features of the text.

Most writers work through these three stages to produce a text, but not necessarily in the same way. Some writers spend a great deal of time on pre-writing activities, thinking about ideas and planning the details of the writing.  When writers spend more time on this stage, the next two stages usually take less time and proceed more smoothly.  Some writers compose nearly everything in their heads before writing it down.  Others write only after discussing the topic with friends or drawing diagrams and pictures.  Trying out different strategies is one way to learn the most effective writing process for you.  Regardless of the process, all writers revise extensively.  This third stage is likely to be the most time-consuming part of writing yet it is essential to the process.  First efforts are seldom acceptable, and sometimes a writer must even start over when a plan is not working.

Writing is a process which can be facilitated by collaboration with others.  The input of classmates, teachers, friends and family is invaluable in the stages of prewriting and revising. While the middle stage of writing is generally done alone, pre-writing and revising require others to be involved.  During pre-writing, discussions with others help to generate ideas and organize thoughts.  During the revising process, the essay should be read by others for feedback as to clarity and content for effective communication.