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The Writing Process: 5 Steps Every Writer Should Know

Updated on
March 17, 2020
Writing Tips
The Writing Process: 5 Steps Every Writer Should Know

The art of writing is a skill set that takes time and practice to master. Although the time required to become a strong writer depends on your personal learning curve, there are fundamental elements involved in the writing process that are universal.

Whether you’re writing a college essay or a casual blog post, understanding the basic writing process steps from start to finish can help you produce high-quality work. 

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1 Brainstorming

Before getting started with the act of writing, you’ll need to conceptualize your writing topic. If it wasn’t specifically given to you, think of your overarching topic and determine what you want to say about it. 

You may want to write an informational piece about what the topic is or how it works. You can also go deeper into a subject by addressing an issue in your writing that’s related to the broader topic.

During this writing process step, thinking about who your audience is can help you better define your topic. For example, if your target reader is an expert on the general topic you’re writing about, an introductory explanation of the subject might not offer as much value to your intended reader.

2 Preparing

When you’ve picked your topic, it’s time to prepare the information you need to start writing. This includes finding authoritative sources of information for research and interview purposes. 

Authoritative sources can help you better understand your topic from an expert’s perspective and, when properly cited, can also lend credibility in your writing. Some examples of authoritative sources include acclaimed academic or industry journals, government or nonprofit research groups, and accredited or certified professional experts.

Once you’ve gathered all of your information, create an outline. An outline helps you map out your ideas in an organized, easy-to-follow way so that your writing flows smoothly for the reader. 

READ MORE: How To Write an Outline

Generally, an outline consists of an introduction that frames the main point for your audience, a body, which is where you’ll break down the main point with more details and supporting statements, and a conclusion to wrap up your thoughts and leave the reader with a final statement. 

3 Drafting

This is the part of the writing process where you get to apply your research and outline in writing. With the help of your outline, formulate sentences and paragraphs to express your points. Your draft doesn’t need to be perfect since you’ll make revisions and corrections in the subsequent writing process steps. 

The key to the draft step is getting your ideas written in a way that’s organized and transitions well between sentences and paragraphs. Read through what you’ve written—whether you do so piecemeal as you’re writing, or after you’ve finished writing your conclusion. It’s helpful to read your writing aloud to spot typos, gaps in information, and any awkward or sudden transitions.

4 Revising

The revision step is a critical part of every writer’s process. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to finetune unclear ideas in your first draft, reorganize the structure of your paragraphs for a natural flow, and reassess whether your draft effectively conveys complete information to the reader. It’s also a chance to tighten your writing by removing unnecessary words that can be shared concisely.

After making improvements to your first draft, reread your writing out loud to ensure that it looks and sounds as you intended.

In writing, you may encounter one revision or many. The revision step is a process of its own and there’s no “right” number of revisions that produces strong writing. 

5 Proofreading

When you feel confident about your revisions, move on to the last writing process step: proofreading. Proofreading involves re-reading your final work with greater emphasis on correcting technical errors, like spelling, grammar, and style.

This is another opportunity to confirm your writing addresses what the title promises to deliver. For example, if your headline is “How to Adopt a Dog,” evaluate whether you actually answered that prompt for your reader, thoroughly. 

If you have a hard time proofreading your own work, use writing software like Grammarly to help give your writing a last look. Grammarly can help not only with spelling and grammar, but it can also check writing missteps like words you may have repeated too many times or tautologies.

Before turning in or publishing your work, take another chance to read your writing aloud for subtle errors. If you feel good about where your work is, submit it.

Although the writing process involves core principles to follow, feeling comfortable with writing and the evolution of your writing style doesn’t happen overnight. Following these steps can help you learn the fundamentals so that you can refine your skills over time

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