When we write, it becomes clear that the bestpractice is to approach the work in smaller stages,especially if the assignment is particularly long.Even for short assignments, breaking the work upinto manageable pieces allows the writer greaterflexibility; time to plan, write, and revise; and anopportunity to edit the work before it is due.What we know for certain is that the mosteffective methodology of writing is ProcessWriting. Note: Much of the material for this lecture can be found in your textbook.
When we write, we engage in a process that helps us move from a simple idea to a finished, coherent, well-researched, and well-written essay. We use this same process every day, but we don’t often relate our actions to an academic setting.
Suppose you were planning the week’s menu so that you could do the grocery shopping. You would first think about what meals you would like to prepare. Then you would consider which ingredients you have on hand and which ones you need to purchase. Next, you would compile the grocery list so that nothing is forgotten once you are in the hectic atmosphere that is a grocery store. After purchasing everything, you would check the recipes, if need be, and prepare the meals.
We start with an idea (the meal we want to prepare), we make lists, outline our ideas, and jot down our thoughts (the grocery list), we organize those thoughts and add supporting detail to our ideas (the shopping trip), and then we write, revise, and edit to create a beautiful, perfect, scrumptious meal…. er….paper.
…that process writing is much like the processes that we encounter on a daily basis. As I’ve said before, we already possess the skills we need to be successful; we just need to learn to apply those skills to our academic writing.
Your text tells us “Instead of just plunging into a first draft, experiment with one or more techniques for exploring your subject” (3). There are strategies that help writers effectively navigate through the drafting process. There are 4 steps in Process Writing: Planning Drafting Revising Editing
The first step, planning, is essential to a well-written final draft. It is the step where the foundation for your writing is laid. According to the text, the first step in the planning process is understanding the assignment (4). This is, of course, a crucial step. Please ask questions if you are unclear about a writing assign- ment or are not sure how to proceed.
I like this. I like that from the very beginning of an assignment the writer can claim authorship of the project and make that paper his or hers. Think of your papers as your own creations, not merely an assignment for class, but a work of art that you imagined, nurtured, and formed with your own hands.
Following your comprehension of what the assignment calls for, you are free to develop your own pre-writing techniques in the order that makes the most sense to you. However, there are a few commonalities of all papers that most students recognize as essential to a draft. Those are: choosing a limited topic, gathering and organizing information, and developing a thesis statement. Each of these tasks can be moved backward and forward as you research, consider, and settle on a topic that interests you.
…you may decide that you want to write about ecosystems, but you might not be sure which ecosystem you want to discuss in detail. With that in mind, you’re off to the library or to the internet to search for information about ecosystems. What you find determines which limited topic you will select. From there, you might do more research just in that topic so that you have comprehensive information on hand. Use the chart on the next slide to help you plan.
Tapping Personal Experiences Choosing a Freewriting Topic Brainstorming for Ideas Listing Asking the Gathering Journalist Information Questions ResearchingPlanning Prewriting Clustering or Mapping Organizing Note Taking Information Outlining Developing a Focusing on a Thesis Limited Topic Statement
Tapping Personal Experiences It is sometimes advantageous to lean on personal experiences or on those of others. Personal experience means that you have significant insight into the topic. It also means that you can rely on your story or anecdote to draw the reader’s interest. Freewriting Freewriting is a concept that allows you to simply put the words on the paper. You should write freely about your topic for 10-15 minutes without stopping. There is no need to worry about spelling, grammar, or even punctuation – just write without stopping to get the ideas on paper. This type of writing closely resembles stream-of-consciousness writing. Brainstorming for Ideas Like freewriting, brainstorming gets the ideas on paper, but in the form of lists or phrases. This is useful when you really just don’t know what to write about. Write down everything you think might be a good idea and then start to edit the list until you have selected a topic.
Listing Listing helps you develop your topic by generating a basic list of what might go into your Who essay. Start with a longer list and then edit to suit your topic. Asking the Journalist How What Questions To better define your topic, ask yourself the journalist questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Being able to answer these questions will Why Where ensure that your essay is well- developed. When Researching You may need to research your topic to learn about the issues, to find more information, or to add expert sources to your essay.
Clustering or Mapping Clustering or Mapping is a visual way of both brainstorming and organizing information at the same time. See the chart in your textbook (40) for an excellent example. Note-Taking Your book discusses the Flexible Notes System (42-43) which is an easy way to keep up with information and stay organized as you are developing an essay. Outlining There are different forms of outlines, including working outlines, informal outlines, and formal outlines. Each of these will help you organize information into paragraphs and help you determine where more information is needed to fill any gaps you might have in your details.
Focusing on a Limited Topic A thesis statement clearly and succinctly states the major topic of a paper, usually in one or two sentences. The thesis statement points you in a specific direction, helping you to stay on track; in addition, it tells your reader what to expect. A good thesis statement has the following characteristics: it is focused on one central issue or topic, it is neither too narrow nor too broad for the assignment, it accurately describes what the paper will discuss, and it is precise.
Avoid “announcement statements” in your thesis (such as “In this paper I will discuss…” or “The purpose of this essay is to tell you about…”). Announcement statements weaken your writing. Keep in mind that a thesis statement is considered tentative until a paper is finished, meaning that you might wind up changing the thesis before the paper is completed. It is okay to change a thesis to ensure that it fits your final paper perfectly.
Throughout the planning process, you might jot down several different thesis statements to help you focus on your research terms and on a topic you really want to explore. Don’t be afraid to change a topic early on in the research process if you aren’t finding the information you thought you would find, or if you stumble across something else that interests you more. However, I would caution you to choose carefully, because once you are into the drafting process, it is almost too difficult to start over from scratch with a new topic.
Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to move on to the drafting process. Writing a first draft can sometimes feel like a daunting task. However, with the proper planning, the drafting process is much easier and the writer often feels much more confident in his or her ability to construct a well-developed essay. Process writing is valuable because it (a) encourages the writer to make time to plan, draft, revise, and edit a paper, and (b) provides the writer with the necessary strategic tools to accomplish that task. Sitting down to write a pre-planned paper means having done the groundwork for a successful writing experience.
Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference, Seventh Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. Reinking, James A. and Robert von der Osten. Strategies for Successful Writing: A Rhetoric, Research Guide, Reader, and Handbook, Ninth Ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.