Business Writing/Content

5 Major Steps in the Writing Process

This section discusses the major steps in the writing process. Following these steps will help you to organize your ideas, write an initial draft, and revise your paper so you can submit a polished, college-level paper.

Steps in the College Writing Process

Step 1: Prewriting

Prewriting is the first stage of the writing process. It warms up your brain and helps you generate ideas.

• There are several methods of prewriting: brainstorming (making a list), group brainstorming, free-writing, clustering or mapping, and asking questions.

• Prewriting may also include research. Depending on the paper you need to write, you may need to do research before prewriting.

• To focus your ideas after you’ve brainstormed, look for recurrent themes among them. The ideas that keep repeating are likely the ideas you’re most interested in and should focus on in your paper.

• Identifying repeated themes will help you decide on a specific topic around which to develop a claim.

• The last stage in prewriting is to create an outline or chart to organize your thoughts.

Step 2: Research

The research expectations for your paper will vary greatly from assignment to assignment and from course to course. Here are a few strategies you can use throughout your time in college, regardless of the type of paper you’re writing.

• Make use of the library and research librarians. They can help you sharpen your research skills and find the types of resources you need.

• If you are doing research online, be sure the source is relevant and reputable. Does it cite its own sources? Does it include verifiable facts and information? Is it a website that seems to include only opinions and editorials?

• Find the best sources for your research. Remember that standard Internet websites are not your only source. Other places you can go are documentaries, newspapers and magazines, books related to your topic, and scholarly research journals.

• Evaluate all of your sources with a critical eye and ask yourself if they appear to be trustworthy. If you’re not sure, enlist the help of your instructor or librarian.

• Cite your resources properly. Whether you are simply reading them for basic information that you might use, paraphrasing, or quoting them, err on the side of giving your sources proper credit. Be sure you use the proper citation method called for in your paper (MLA, APA, Chicago).

Step 3: Drafting

Drafts are non-final versions of your work, which you create once prewriting is complete.

• First drafts are often incomplete, have errors, and are not fully formed. They are meant to be that way. Try not to be overly critical of your first drafts; otherwise, you may have trouble completing them or even starting them. It’s okay if they are full of errors and incomplete. You cannot revise what you don’t first write.

• Second, third, or even fourth drafts are when you rethink your paper, finally complete it, and then revise it until it is well organized and issue free.

• The final draft, which comes after the revising and editing steps discussed below, is the polished paper ready for submission to your instructor.

Step 4: Revising

Your revisions will lead to your second, third, or final drafts. Revising is rewriting a large portion of an essay and focusing on large details such as thesis statements, organization, and evidence. Revisions focus on the big picture, the building blocks of your paper.

• In a revision you might need to re-envision your paper; that is, you may learn something while writing that you did not know before you started and that requires you to rethink your paper.

• You may need to reconsider some vital parts of the paper. That’s okay! It is part of the development process. Unless you’re very lucky, your final paper will not arrive fully formed in the first draft.

• With each revision, a more complete and refined written work develops.

Step 5: Editing

Once you have revised your paper (possibly several times) and feel it is as complete and as good as it can be, then the editing process begins. Edits focus on sentences and paragraphs and address issues dealing with grammar, punctuation, and clarity.

• Edits include choosing better words or rewriting sentences to make your point clearer or engaging. Editing also includes issues such as typographical errors, repeated words, or incorrect punctuation.

• Although editing happens throughout the process, the last stage in writing is the final edit, which happens after a final revision.

About the author


Ahmed Sheikh

Ahmed Sheikh has a deep understanding of marketing and sales and has been involved in providing content support in SAP, ERP, Big data Analytics, IoT, and Cloud areas.