The writing process is the method by which an author crafts a piece of writing. Within this highly individualized process, authors may spend excessive amounts of time in one step or even skip a few steps entirely. The five commonly accepted steps in the writing process are prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
Prewriting is also called brainstorming. This is the idea phase of writing, when an author decides what to write and researches the topic. Free-writing, in which the author writes nonstop for a predetermined amount of time, is one of many writing techniques that help with this step. When this phase is finished, the author should have all the information he or she needs to write, along with a general idea of organization. Many authors finish this stage by writing an outline.
Drafting is the second stage of the writing process. During the drafting process, the author should write a complete first draft using his or her notes from prewriting as a guide. The purpose in drafting is to have a complete draft, not a perfect one, so writers are encouraged to ignore spelling or grammar mistakes and write quickly.
Revising, the third step of writing, is different from editing. Instead of focusing on correcting spelling and grammar mistakes, authors move sentences or even whole paragraphs in order to create better flow. Authors may also have to rearrange syntax to vary sentence structure.
Editing, also known as proofreading, is the fourth stage. During editing, authors need to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Many authors find that after working through the other steps it can be difficult to see their own mistakes. For this reason, many writers participate in peer editing, in which colleagues proofread each other’s work.
The final step of the writing process is to publish or present the work. That can mean being printed by a publisher, or copying, stapling, and handing out copies to friends. The purpose of this step is to share the writing in whatever method is most appropriate to the piece. For an elementary student, publishing may mean posting the paper on the classroom wall. Grad students might present papers at a conference.
Although the steps of the writing process should be taken sequentially, sometimes a writer has to go back a few steps. This is most common during revising. Upon reading his or her first draft, an author may realize he or she forgot to research an important point. If so, the author must return to the first step, prewriting, in order to do more research.