Steps in Writing

Writing is a process. Good writers follow a formula that consists of prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and proofreading. This process allows their work to emerge in a series of small, manageable steps.

The first step is to define the purpose of your writing. Select a topic that is narrow enough to be explained within your page limitations. A thesis, unlike a topic, is a single statement that makes an assertion about a topic. It is usually placed in the introduction of an essay. Often, a thesis sentence gives the reader a clear overview of the essay content by stating the main ideas.

Although writing is a process, writing doesn't progress as neatly from one step to the next as does, for example, baking cookies or changing a tire. Roughly speaking, when you write, you do the following:

  1. Decide on a topic (or have a topic assigned to you).

  2. Explore ideas about the topic through thinking, reading, listening, and so on.

  3. Formulate a thesis or main idea, and decide what points you want to make to support it.

  4. Select details and examples from reading, research, and personal experience.

  5. Decide on the order in which you'll present your ideas and examples.

  6. Write a first draft.

  7. Edit and revise the first draft for content, style, and writing mechanics.

  8. Write a final draft.

At any time during this process, you may need to stop and go back several steps. For example, when you're selecting details and examples, you may realize your topic is too broad or your thesis statement is weak. Or when organizing main points, you may see that the thesis you thought you were developing isn't the one that you are developing. Often the act of writing itself generates new ideas you may want to pursue. Even as late as your final draft, you may decide that the organization isn't working, or you may spot a flaw in your argument that causes you to throw out much of what you've written and rework the rest.

Writing is not a straight‐line task; it's more of a back‐and‐forward activity. Take that into account when deciding how long you'll need to finish a writing assignment. Allow plenty of time for each step in the process.