Those pesky essays and papers – they never stop coming! And, as busy as you are, it is so tempting just to “fire them off” just to get something in on time. This is not a good idea, because those poor grades accumulate and all of a sudden you are at the end of the semester and looking at course grade that you will not want to share with your parents, for sure. If you do not really remember the writing process steps, here’s a quick run-down with an easy and simple explanation of how to get through them.
The 5 Steps of the Writing Process
There are actually 6 steps if you count the decision on a topic and a thesis. But we will assume that you have at least that much taken care of. If not, there are some tips for that at the end of this post.
- Brainstorm or conduct research: If you are writing a basic essay that will not involve outside research, you need to list all of the possible things that might be included in the essay. Then you combine those that are related until you have 3-4 main ideas that will make up your body paragraphs. If you are writing an essay or paper that involves research, you “know the drill.” Find some good resources, read them and take notes.
- Organize your ideas or notes. Depending on the purpose for your essay or paper, there are a variety of organizers you can use. You may prefer just a basic outline or list of the order in which you are going to cover your sub-topics. If you are writing a comparison/contrast, on the other hand, you may want to use a Venn diagram; if you are writing a narrative, you will want to make a timeline.
- Write your rough draft: Write the body paragraphs first, then add your introduction and conclusion. Follow your organizer as you do this so that you leave nothing out that is important to your thesis statement.
- Revise, revise, and revise: This cannot be stressed enough – it is one of the most important writing process steps, if you want a decent grade. There are several methods for this. If you are checking sentence structure and grammar, read the thing out loud to yourself – you will catch most of those types of errors. If you are not a skilled writer, then get someone who is to review and edit it.
- Type up your final draft and be certain that your format is in accord with the instructor’s requirements, including both in-text and end-of text citations.
Things Have Not Changed Over the Years
Even in elementary school, the writing process for kids is very much like what it is for high school and college students. It is “tried and tested” and really does work, if you will follow each step carefully. Again, if you leave out a step, you end up with a piece of writing that can lack logical flow and/or have many structural and grammatical errors.
A Word on Topic Selection
Whether you have complete freedom to choose any topic you wish or whether you can select from among options, if you have any choice at all, pick a topic that interest you. If you do not, the whole process will just be drudgery. Once you have your topic, you do have to come up with a thesis statement. In a persuasive or argumentative piece, your thesis is your opinion. For other types, you will need to ask yourself some questions. Why is this topic important? What do I want others to take away from this? Answering these will help you get to your thesis.