ENGL 110 AMU Week 1 lesson The Writing Process Making Writing Relevant American Military university
The Writing Process
There are many steps to consider as you begin a writing assignment. This includes following the writing process, considering the assignment, and reflecting on the location where you are the most productive during the steps in this process. This process applies to a variety of courses, disciplines, subjects, and genres. The same process applies to online classrooms as well as brick and mortar classes. The writing process is the same, no matter the genre, discipline, modality, or even age of the writer.
The Writing Process Has Five Steps
Prewriting/Planning Drafting/Composing Revising Editing Publishing/Presenting
While there are 5 clear steps to this process, it is a recursive process. That means that while you may be revising your paper, you may realize that you need to go back and draft or outline a bit more before you can move on. You may find a hole in your research or that you have unrelated information in your work. Each step has clear tasks, however, as you are in each step, you may need to return to a previous step. This process makes your writing stronger and your finished piece the highest quality possible.
Prewriting and Planning
This stage might be one that you try to skip. However, the more time and effort you spend prewriting, the better your finished product will be. Having a solid plan, outline or concept map will help you throughout the other steps in this process. Spending a little time on this now, can really help the entire process!
WHAT IS PREWRITING?
During the prewriting stage, you should check your understanding of the assignment. Also, consider possible topics for your assignment. Consider your audience for the assignment. Finally, begin to brainstorm ideas about the topic and assignment. During this process, you may want to free write (writing everything that comes to your mind for a set amount of time), use a mind mapping tool, or make a list or outline.
In this stage, you are capturing ideas rather than editing them. Write down everything that comes to mind. Then, begin to narrow your focus and ideas. End this process with creating an outline to help guide your drafting, which is the next step. Consider the topic, the main points, and support that you have in mind. You don’t need to actually research yet. This is just the planning and capturing ideas stage.
Drafting or Composing
Does your assignment need you to complete outside research? Most likely, it does. Now is the time to begin that research. Then, begin to place that information into your draft. Make sure to put ideas in your own words and include proper in text citations. For additional information regarding this, please see the Supplemental Readings included with this week’s lesson.
During this step, you are consulting your research and your outline often as you write. You may decide that paragraphs need to be moved around on your outline; your research may show that you have forgotten an important point. This is the drafting stage; part of that process includes remembering that this is just a first draft. There will be changes. That’s okay—that’s writing. Even professional writers plan and draft.
This step is not the step when you proofread; that’s the next step. In this part of the process, you want to look at the “big picture.” Read through your draft and consider the following questions:
Can you easily identify your thesis?
Does it make sense?
Do you have your points in the correct order?
Does everything directly relate and support your main point/thesis statement?
Are you missing any information?
You may find that you need more research. Perhaps one point doesn’t have enough support. Go back, research the point, and add in that information. Make sure that your writing is clear and specific. Read the whole piece out loud to yourself to check the flow of your points.
Organization and the Reverse Outline
Outlines can be a great tool, not just during the pre-writing phase, but throughout every step of the writing process. During the revision phase, you need to determine if the order in which you arranged your supporting points makes logical sense. One way to do this, regardless of whether or not you began with an outline, is to create a reverse outline.
In a reverse outline, you will take your most recent draft and create an outline based on what you have already written. If you already have an outline, place it aside for now.
- Begin with your introduction and thesis statement, and make those the opening line of the outline.
- Next, go through each body paragraph, and pull out the main idea or topic sentence. List below them, in whatever organizational structure makes most sense to you, what support you have given to those main ideas. Do this for every paragraph and every main idea.
- Wrap up the reverse outline with the conclusion.
If you used a pre-writing outline, compare it to the reverse outline. What changes to the organization have you made? Do those changes help or hurt the logical progression of the paper?
Look at how your ideas are sequenced. Do they make sense how they are or should some of the points be rearranged? Perhaps your third point would make more sense as your first body paragraph, or your conclusion is still operating as a body paragraph and you still need something else at the end.
Using a reverse outline can be a valuable tool when revising for organization, because it helps you to isolate each main point to see how they flow from one to the other.