Developing an individual writing process is key to your success as a writer. Studies of struggling writers show that one of the reasons they struggle is that they focus on only one aspect of writing.
So what is the writing process? First it is important to note that there is no such thing as “the writing process”. Yes, there is a writing process that embraces the notion that there are certain essential steps that successful writers employ when writing but that process varies greatly depending on the writer and then individual writers also vary their process according to the writing task at hand. That means that there is no such as “the writing process” but that a personal, individual writing process which you adjust to the varying circumstances of your writing can be tremendously helpful.
However, before you can begin to individualize your writing process and then adjust it to different tasks, you must learn more about the theory behind the writing process.
The theory of writing process begins with prewriting or invention stage. This is when you may need to do brainstorming, research, and planning to get started with your writing project. This is the stage that struggling writers spend the least time on and experienced writers spend much more time as they know that more attention and thought at this stage can save time and effort later. This stage may have a lot to show for it in terms of prewriting and research or it might take place primarily inside the writer’s brain. This depends on the individual writer, the complexity of the task, and the familiarity of the writer with the task.
Only after spending time at the prewriting stage do writers move on to drafting. This is where the actual writing takes place but encompasses more than one draft and several sessions of writing spread over time. Drafting focuses on simply getting words on paper and emptying the brain of ideas for this project.
Writers move on to revision after those early drafts have filled out and developed some substance. It is during the multiple drafts of the revision stage that the writing project shapes into something resembling the intended final project. The paper is not yet done but it looks and feels like the intended genre, the ideas are fully developed and the organization is functional.
Then writers move on the editing stage where they attend to correctness issues including cleaning up spelling, grammar, word choice, and polishing the writing. This is the correct time to deal with these issues as concentrating on them earlier in the writing process will slow down the development of ideas.
After editing, writers should seek out feedback for the final stage of the writing process to determine what further revision or editing might be necessary to complete the writing project. Feedback should be sought from skilled readers familiar with either the subject matter or the type of writing project so they can offer more informed review.
While each individual writing process will include some general variation of these elements it is important for writers to recognize that an effective writing process reflects their own individual strengths, weaknesses, and work habits. The writing process should also vary according to the project as well. Obviously a new, complex project will demand much more during prewriting and invention than a familiar topic and comfortable project genre.