9 – The Writing Process

The Writing Process: An Overview

Kalani Pattison; James Francis, Jr.; and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt

Well-written documents, whether essays, memos, letters, reports, instructions, or some other genre or form, don’t move perfectly from a writer’s thoughts and imagination through the keyboard or pen and onto screen or paper. Strong writing emerges through a process or series of steps. Writers may or may not engage in these steps purposefully, but understanding how certain skills, tools, and practices can be used at each point of the process helps the development of a document proceed more smoothly. The general steps of the writing process can be divided into five stages:

  1. Prewriting
  2. Outlining
  3. Drafting
  4. Revising
  5. Editing

Though each stage is recognizable, writing is primarily recursive; in other words, it covers the same ground and techniques multiple times. When writing (especially when typing, where the delete and backspace keys are easily accessible), a writer doesn’t smoothly type a sentence without stopping. Instead, a writer may type a few words, decide one word doesn’t work, and delete it before continuing on. When constructing a paragraph, the writer may return to the middle of it and add a transitional phrase or word before continuing on to another section. Even after a first draft is complete, a writer may realize they are missing an idea and go back to conduct some prewriting and/or outlining of a section, and then return to revise the remainder of the document.

Overall, writing doesn’t proceed in a straight line. Furthermore, the tools and strategies for each stage are helpful to understand and apply at the appropriate times in your own work.

McKinney, Matt, Kalani Pattison, Sarah LeMire, Kathy Anders, and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt, eds. Howdy or Hello?: Technical and Professional Communication. 2nd ed. College Station: Texas A&M University, 2022. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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The Writing Process: An Overview by Kalani Pattison; James Francis, Jr.; and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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