The Writing Process

To achieve success, students must learn how to write effectively. Your teachers will assess your progress in most of the courses you take partially based on writing assignments they will require you to complete. In the future, your college instructors and even your employers will also assess the quality of your work based, in part, upon your ability to communicate in writing clearly and intelligently.

There is a process to follow to complete most school writing assignments successfully and effectively. You must access and acquire the knowledge you will need to give substance to your work; compose a thesis, which will provide readers the main or controlling idea you wish to express; shape the knowledge, the content you have accessed and acquired into an outline, to make certain your readers will follow your train of thought, as you develop your thesis; write a first draft; revise that draft, usually more than once; and edit the draft, carefully correcting errors in sentence grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling. If you have used information you took from books, articles, and internet sources in your assignment, you must check to make certain you have acknowledged those sources carefully and accurately.

The way in which the writing process is described above may make it seem straightforward and linear. Note carefully that it is usually not. You may refine your thesis after you have written a draft. You may acquire a new research source halfway through the process and refine the content of your essay as a result. You will revise and edit your work as you are writing, even if you apply the finishing touches to your work just before you hand it in. Writing is much more of a recursive than a linear process.

In this chapter, the components of the writing process are explained and illustrated in that linear order—from knowledge to thesis to plan to draft to revision to editing—but remember that good writers usually mix up that process.

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Composition and Literature by James Sexton and Derek Soles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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