Writing is not one thing. To write successfully, you also need to pre-write, think, research, plan, organize, draft, revise, rethink, analyze and brainstorm. Why is it important to think of writing as more than just the act of physically writing out words? Because often when people say that they’re “bad at writing,” they actually just need to make a few adjustments to just one of the phases of the writing process. The more you understand your writing process, the more control you have over it.
The writing process is made up of three main parts:
Pre-writing: In the pre-writing stage, you might read an assignment prompt, research, make an outline, sketch some ideas, brainstorm, doodle, jot down notes or even just think about your writing topic while you’re on the bus or driving home.
Writing: In the writing or drafting stage, you write down words. Your writing task will determine how you write. Some people write long or important documents by composing them in a notebook and then typing out the final product. Some write in one long paragraph and then break it up in the revision stage.
Revision: After you’ve finished writing, it’s time to rethink your piece. Many students think that revising is just making grammatical changes, but it’s a lot more than that. Expert writers often spend most of their composition time on revision. They may rethink their strategy, try a new outline, show their work to a colleague to get feedback, read their work out loud to see where it sounds choppy or simply put the work away for a few hours so that they can come back to it with a fresh perspective.
It’s important to note that your writing process won’t be a straight line. Expert writers switch between different modes. For example, you might realize that you need more research and go back to the pre-writing process. You might revise and write as you go. You might show a draft to a colleague or friend and decide to reorganize the entire work based on their feedback. Sometimes, this back-and-forth feels frustrating to new writers, but it’s a normal part of the writing process.