For those of us who like a certain order to things, the iterative nature of writing can be a bit frustrating. However, as we think and live in tangential ways, so goes how we approach the writing process. Writing is, after all, simply thinking and feeling on paper.
We might draft a bit, revise some, brainstorm in myriad ways, move whole sections around, reverse outline to check our logic and organization, and finally copyedit—all as permitted by the inevitable deadline, of course.
There is a time-tested order for writing: brainstorm, research, draft, revise, and polish. At the same time, we encourage you to give yourself the time, space, and permission to move back and forth between these stages, making sure you remain on a forward tragetory overall. Accept that byways happen, and start anywhere—in the middle, even!
For a clear, engaging explanation of these ideas, view our NPS-specific "The Writing Process" slides and video, from the GWC's quarterly presentation, "Foundations of Academic Writing." To help you build a disciplined writing practice, consider Julia Cameron's Morning Pages method.
Our Writing Process sequence, available via the menu on the left, contains the following topics: Audience and Purpose, Brainstorming, Overcoming Writer's Block, Drafting, Revision, Proofreading, and Group Writing.
General Writing Process Links
- Summary with a diagram (printable): "The Writing Process," Defiance College
- Handout (printable, 2 pages): "Stages of the Writing Process," Purdue OWL
- Video (1:52): "Writing as Decision-Making," UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center
- Video (13:12, animated, awesome): "Writing Process Animation," CIS*2050*DE
- Book: Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, 2nd ed., Peter Elbow, Oxford University Press
The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at email@example.com if we are missing something!