- Books, Literature, and Writing
My Writing Process
Being able to communicate effectively in writingis an essential life skill, and it only becomes more important as we increasingly deal with one another through electronic print rather than face to face. The ability to compose formal essays to communicate one’s thoughts and ideas is important and helpful, not only for academic writing requirements, but also throughout the rest of one’s life. I see writing as a process, especially when composing formal papers, and approach my writing tasks in this way. The stages of the process when I write include prewriting, drafting, and revision.
When approaching a writing task, I like to know the direction in which I am going before I begin; this leads to a lengthy prewriting component of the process. When trying to decide on and narrow down a topic, I usually brainstorm using a web format. When I have narrowed the ideas down to a workable topic that seems interesting, I can often take a whole branch of my web, using the main idea of that branch as my topic and the ideas branching off from it as my main points. Although some may view the time spent brainstorming and formulating ideas in this prewriting step as a waste of time, given that I have no gradable product when I have completed this component, I view this step as vital to producing a coherent product at the end of the process.
The key points from my web establish the basis of my outline, which is the formal result of my prewriting stage of the writing process. I usually organize my ideas into a temporary order that seems to have the best flow and add in other ideas where they fit. Under each of the main ideas I add specific examples that support that idea and the original topic. Planning and organizing what I am going to write into a coherent outline before I proceed is an important part of my writing method that sets the stage for the rest of the process.
When the outline is complete, the initial drafting stage is fairly simple. I take all the ideas and examples from the outline and put them into sentences, making sure that my paper maintains a logical flow. I add topic and transition sentences to keep all the ideas in a smooth and logical sequence and relevant to the central topic. If I have shortchanged the prewriting step of the process, the drafting stage becomes more of a struggle, as I am forced to do two things at once. On the other hand, if I have planned my writing effectively, the actual drafting of the paper flows more readily.
Despite thorough brainstorming and careful planning, I seldom have a workable draft based only on the ideas I have included in the outline. When I have gone through the outline and addressed everything it includes, the paper is usually slightly shorter than it needs to be, so I go back through and identify areas that could benefit from further elaboration or explanation. I may also need to insert additional evidence to support my main points. Inclusion of additional examples, evidence, and elaboration will most likely increase my paper to the desired length. Being able to elaborate and expand on ideas is essential in order to further develop my points and communicate my opinions effectively.
Once I have a draft of sufficient length and complexity, I can begin revising and editing. I begin this component of the process by slowly reading through my paper from beginning to end, making sure that the essay maintains a logical order and flow, and that all my points relate to my main thesis. I then go back through the paper and look for grammatical and typing errors. Revising takes several reads through, setting the paper down between them so it can be approached freshly every time. The revising stage is a vital part of my writing process, hopefully changing what would be a mediocre paper into a much better final product.