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College of Arts & Sciences
Writing Center

Writing Process

Have you found yourself staring at a blank page? Maybe following these writing process steps can help.
Step 1: Pre-writing
You could also call this the thinking or brainstorming stage of writing. This is the stage where you write out as many of your thoughts as possible without worrying about the organization, wording, or expression.  To get started, try setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and write whatever comes to mind without stopping.
Step 2: Drafting
In this stage you will refer to your pre-writing notes often. Use your pre-writing to make decisions about what your focus will be as you start to write.  Allow yourself plenty of time to translate your pre-writing notes into a fleshed-out draft.  A rough draft can be short and unsophisticated. Don’t worry about how your ideas are expressed yet. Focus instead on getting your main ideas into the draft and supporting those main ideas with evidence and analysis.
Step 3: Revising
Revision will require you to reread your rough draft with a critical eye. It sometimes helps to put your rough draft away for a little while before revising it. As you revise your draft, look closely at the content of your thesis statement, main ideas, and supporting details.  If you are happy with your paper’s content, then start thinking about the way you have expressed your thoughts. Give yourself the freedom to play with your sentences and how you’ve structured them.  Also make sure that you are making smooth transitions between paragraphs and linking back to your thesis statement often.
Step 4: Editing
Now you have made it to the proofreading stage. Do you have the correct punctuation in your paper? Have you capitalized appropriately? Is your grammar correct? Do you have your pages numbered? Are your references cited correctly?
Step 5: The Final Product
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the stage where you formally touch up the document and turn it in. Be sure you have included a title page, if one is needed. Observe any conventions you have been asked to follow, especially with regard to formatting your paper (e.g. margins, font size, tables, charts, etc.).