Writing Processes & Strategies Adapted from Exploring College Writing by Dan Melzer
OverviewFive myths about college writingUnderstanding writing assignmentsFinding topicsDrafting and revisingEditing and proofreading
Five Myths about College Writing ProcessesMyth #1: Good college writers create a perfect drafton the first try.
Five Myths about College Writing ProcessesMyth #2: Successful college writers don’t need anyhelp during the writing process.
Five Myths about College Writing ProcessesMyth #3: Some people will never be good collegewriters.
Five Myths about College Writing ProcessesMyth #4: You can use the same writing process forevery college writing assignment.
Five Myths about College Writing Processes Myth #5: Revising simply means changing a few words or sentences.A novice writer’s reflection on the revision process:“I read what I have written and I cross out a word and putanother word in; a more decent word or a better word.”An advanced writer’s reflection on the revision process:“In one draft, I might cross out three pages, write two, crossout a fourth, rewrite it, and call it a draft. I am constantlywriting and rewriting.”
Understanding Writing Assignments Look for key verbs such as define, argue, compare, summarize, and others.
Understanding Writing Assignments Think about the genre of the writing assignment and try to find examples of this kind of genre to use as models.
Understanding Writing Assignments Think about the intended audience.
Understanding Writing Assignments Ask your peers and your instructor questions about the writing assignment.
Understanding Writing Assignments Collaborate with a tutor at the Write Place!
Finding TopicsInventing a topic can be no easy task. Inventiontechniques can help you select a topic before youstart writing or even after you’ve started drafting.
Finding TopicsCreate an authority and interest list.What are you an expert in/on? What are your majorinterests? Can you connect your expertise with theassignment or task?
Finding TopicsUse freewriting to generate topics.Try blind writing with the computer screen turned off.Try talking about your subject and recording whileyou talk.Surf the Internet and brainstorm topics.Read and research to generate ideas for a topic.
Finding TopicsMeet with your instructor during office hours todiscuss topic ideas.Visit the Write Place!Narrow broad topics.Use clustering to generate or narrow a topic.
Drafting and RevisingWrite down what you already know about a topic andwhat questions you have about a topic before youbegin drafting.Write a “discovery draft,” a focused freewrite of anentire draft in one sitting.Try the talk-and-transcribe technique.Don’t edit in early drafts.Start with what you’re most interested in or confidentabout writing.
Drafting and RevisingRemember the differences between revising andediting/proofreading.Give yourself time to look at what you’ve written witha fresh eye.Get feedback from your instructor.Get feedback from your peers.Get feedback from a tutor at the Write Place!
Editing and ProofreadingWhile revising means making big changes to youressay (topic, organization, adding/removingparagraphs, further research), editing meansfocusing on sentence-level issues.Read what you’ve written out loud or have someoneelse read it to you out loud.Find an outside reader (peer, family member, friend).Keep an editing journal (record your trouble areas).
Editing and ProofreadingWork on patterns of error with your professor or atutor.Read, read, read. The more you read, you will gain agreater understanding of sentence structures,vocabulary, and styles of writing used for differentpurposes and situations.Don’t be frustrated if you struggle with errors in yourcollege writing career.
References Revised and adapted from:Melzer, Dan. Exploring College Writing:Reading, Writing, an Researching across the Curriculum.Oakville, CT: Equinox, 2011. Print.