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Explanation on Writing Process Used By ESL Student

Updated on May 28, 2016

So far, there are numerous opinions towards the concept of writing process.

According to Oxford, writing process is similar to “dance steps”. In this sense, writing is not a linear process, but a rather complicated process. It is said that “instead of moving forward in a straight line, writers go forward a little, then back and then forward again” (p. 1). In other words, writing comprises of steps of thinking and writing. Writers first have to think about the topic they want to write about and then gather information about it. After having completed their writing in the next step, they have to consider and self-evaluate their products, or think again. This idea on writing process is illustrated in the following diagram.

Figure 1: The writing process under Oxford’s view

This opinion towards the concept of writing process is shared by The Cappella University. However, one of the significant differences between these two ideas is that writing process constructed by The Cappella University comprises of four steps, among which “revising” in Oxford’s view is divided into two smaller steps, namely “revising” and “polishing”. The writing process under this view can be illustrated in the diagram as follows:

Figure 2: Writing process according to The Cappella University

As shown in the diagram, each of the aforementioned four steps includes several smaller steps. For example, in the pre-writing stage, before generating ideas, writers have to think carefully about their assignment to “assess the writing situation”. In other words, they have to identify clearly the topic and how it will be developed.

However, the shared significant limitation of the writing process constructed by both Oxford and Cappella University lies in the first steps. After employing some pre-writing strategies, which would be discussed later, to generate ideas for the writing, there is no step of organizing these ideas – Outlining stage. It is said that pre-writing stage is a process of thinking, during which ideas are created; however, writers may not pay much attention to the organization of the ideas, making ideas confusing and unsystematic. It is the time when the role of planning (outlining) stage arises.

The limitation of the two views on the structure of writing process discussed before can be made up for by the approach of Coffin et al. (2003) towards the same concept.

In his research, he constructed a process of writing with much detail.

Figure 3: The writing process approach (Coffin et al., 2003, p. 34.)

Nevertheless, some stages in the writing process by Coffein et al. (2003) seem to overlap each other. For example, the steps including reflection, peer/tutor reviews, revision and editing and proofreading may be combined in a stage called polishing (Oshima & Hogue, 2006), which offers much great convenience for the author in the current research.

For this reason, the author of the current study would like to adopt the model of writing process constructed by Oshima and Hogue (2006). In their viewpoints, “writing is a process of creating, organizing, writing and polishing” (p. 265). In this sense, writing process comprises of four steps: creating (pre-writing), planning (outlining), writing and finally polishing.

Oshima and Hogue (2006) states that in the first step, writers have to identify clearly what they intend to write about (the topic) and then gather relevant information about it. Writers usually employ four useful techniques (strategies) to generate the ideas: journal writing, listing, free-writing and clustering in this stage (Oshima & Hogue, 2006). In the second stage, writers are said to make an outline to organize the ideas. Though optional in writing, an outline holds such an important role. Oshima and Hogue (2006) explain that “with this outline in front of you, it should be relatively easy to write a paragraph” (p.272). An outline comprises of important elements such as a topic sentence, supporting ideas and relevant details. In the third stage- writing, writers write “the rough draft”. A rough draft is written from the outline constructed before without much attention paid to grammar, punctuation, or spelling (Oshima & Hogue, 2006). The final step is called “Polishing”, for writers will actually “polish” their product. This step includes a process of revising and editing. Oshima and Hogue (2006) remark that “writers first attack the big issues of content and organization” (p.273). Then, the issues of grammar and punctuation are taken into consideration for improvements.


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