Part 1: The Writing Process

Getting started with writing can take many forms. Some writers start with a question they want to answer; others take a prompt or an assignment and build an outline. Many of us have experience with free-writing or journal writing as a way to get words on the page.

This section addresses both the nuts-and-bolts planning aspects of getting started with writing and the higher-level demands of figuring out how to structure an essay so that it meets with college writing expectations. It begins a longer discussion, as well, on how to find good information on which to base your arguments and explorations, a discussion we’ll continue in the research section.

Writing Process Overview

One Does Not Simply write a good essay at 2:00am the night before it's due.
(Jackson, P.). (2001). Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings [Motion picture]. New Zealand: New Line Cinema.

Have you ever received a writing assignment, thought “this won’t take long” and then stayed up all night writing the night before your assignment was due because it ended up taking a lot longer than you thought it would? If you have, you’re not alone. Many beginning writers struggle to plan well when it comes to a writing assignment, and this results in writing that is just not as good as it could be. When you wait until the last minute and fail to engage in a good writing process, you’re not doing your best work—even if you did “get all A’s in high school” as a procrastinator.

Research on writing tells us that the best thing writers can do to improve their writing is to improve their writing process! With that in mind, this chapter is going to take you through the steps of a thorough writing process—one that involves many stages that will help you become a better writer.


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English 102: Journey Into Open Copyright © 2021 by Christine Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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