The Writing Process

What we call “writing” is a three-step process:

•       Pre-writing (Or planning. Or thinking.)

•       Drafting

•       Editing

Writing is a sum of all three steps. If you

•       Skip a step

•       Or smoosh all three steps together

•       The process will take longer

•       The result won’t be as good

How do professional writers spend their time on a writing project? Take a guess, then click the link to see the answer.

•       Planning  _____%

•       Drafting   _____%

•       Editing.    _____%

•       Total:        100 %

Source: Diane Hacker, Write to the Top

Step 1: Planning and Preparation

The first step in the writing process is sometimes called “pre-writing.” Another good word is “thinking.”

The good news is that planning doesn’t all have to be done at the computer. You can think about what you want to write while you’re walking to class, eating lunch, or walking the dog.

Planning can also include formal and informal research.

Quick tip: Professional writers say that 40 percent of the total project time is spent in planning and preparation! If you have an in-class essay to complete in 50 minutes, the 40% rule says you would spend 20 minutes planning what you have to say! 

You'll find more resources on the Planning page.

Step 2: Drafting

A draft is a preliminary version of what you are writing.

Remember that drafting is the shortest part of the process. Why?

·      Your planning and preparation give you lots of ideas about what to write.

·      You don’t have to worry about the order in which you write, or whether you have picked exactly the right word. That happens during the editing!

You’ll find more resources on the Drafting page.

Step 3: Editing

Editing is much more than looking for typos. In the third step, you figure out what your real thesis statement is. You decide how you want to organize your supporting points. You put things in and take other things out. You make sure you have clear transitions.

It sounds like a lot—that’s why editing is about 30% of the total time spent. Because you don’t wear yourself out in the drafting stage, you’ll have energy to spend on editing.

Find more resources on the Editing page.