The Writing Process The writing process involves several steps

The Writing Process
The writing process involves several steps, meant to
enhance both your thinking and argumentation and your
voice and style. You’ll be doing a lot of writing in this
class, and much of it will be process­oriented­­that means,
it will focus on the pre­writing or idea­generating stage as
distinct from the drafting stage as distinct from the
revising stage as distinct from the editing phase. The idea,
in process­based approaches to writing, is that the piece is
never “finished,” and the process of generating ideas is
iterative. This means that as you write and draft and
revise, you are also learning about your ideas and getting
to know them more fully. We get our ideas in part
from writing; they don’t spring from our heads
fully­formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.
Image: Attic black­figured amphora, third quarter of the 6th century
BC. Side A: birth of weaponed Athena who emerged from Zeus' head
(detail). Fould Collection. Musée du Louvre.
Prewriting: Analyzing your audience, determining your purpose in writing, limiting the scope of
what you will cover, and generating potential content. Pre­writing can look like notes, freewriting,
brainstorming or cluster maps, and so on. If research is involved, it will also include finding and
reading sources, annotating them, and thinking about how they intersect with or help construct
your ideas.
Drafting: Making a case and structuring your evidence for that case. Now, your work is beginning
to look like a “response essay” or a “blog post” or a “research essay” and so on.
Feedback: From your instructor, a peer, or a tutor, you get a sense of someone else’s
perspective­­this is important because it helps you develop an awareness of your audience, and it
also attunes you to other people. You will become a better writer as you learn how to read and
respond to others’ drafts, and how to evaluate peer responses so they can best help you refine
your ideas.
Revising: Putting yourself in the place of the reader, rethinking your approach, and making
changes that will improve your case. Note that this is not proofreading! This is re­seeing your
argument with the benefit of new and refined ideas! Sometimes, we might call this “global
Polishing: Editing and proofreading to eliminate errors and improve the coherence and readability
of your presentation.
For the visually­inclined, here’s a diagram showing the relationships between these steps ⇨
Image: The writing process. From Coffin, C., Curry, M. J., Goodman, S., Hewings, A., Lillis, T. M., & Swann, J.
Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Higher Education. London and New York: Routledge: Taylor & Francis
Group. 2003. 37.