On the surface, writing may seem to be difficult, mysterious, and even unpredictable. However, if you understand basic patterns of organization and follow common steps in the writing process, you too can write things you never thought you could — even in a new language! The key is to focus on writing as a process — a recursive process. You plan. You draft. You read. You revise. You repeat.
|recursive (adjective) doing or saying the same thing multiple times in order to produce a particular result or effect|
Writing is recursive
In this course, you will focus as much on the process of writing as you will on its end product. Recursive means repeating some steps in the process. For example, you might be in the middle of your draft when you realize you need to do more brainstorming. So you return to the planning, or prewriting, stage. Even when you finish a draft, you may want to make some changes. This is common. Every writer develops their own process for getting the writing done. However, there are some basic strategies and techniques you can adapt to make your work a little easier, more fulfilling, and more effective.
Developing your personal writing process
Some of you may already know strategies and techniques to assist you in your writing. You may already be familiar with prewriting techniques, such as freewriting, mind maps, outlining, and making lists. You may already have a regular writing practice. But the rest of you may need to discover what works through trial and error. This can take time. So, be patient. Here is what is important to understand: writing is more than typing something quickly and thinking it is finished. Please avoid the “one and done” attitude. That approach will not help you now, and it will not help you in the future.
You have the P.O.W.E.R.
No two people follow exactly the same process when writing. However, there are some common steps that are useful for any student of writing. You can remember the steps by their initials: P.O.W.E.R. And it is a method that gives you — as a writer — the power to not only write faster, but also to write so that others can better understand your meaning.
P.O.W.E.R. is not a shortcut. You still have a lot of work to do. However, this process can guide you on the way and always point you in the direction of what comes next. Now … what do you think the initials P.O.W.E.R. mean? Let’s find out!
The P.O.W.E.R. writing process
Collect your information. Brainstorm. This might mean making a list, drawing a mind map, or freewriting. However, it might also mean more formal research at the library or online. (Important: If you use information from another source such as a book or website, remember to save the details about that source so that you can tell your reader where the information came from.) TIP: Sketch your essay in the form of a simple, but well-made paragraph. An essay or research paper might seem intimidating, but everyone can write a simple paragraph. This method is a great way to start, and you will practice in this class.
Now that you have a paragraph about your topic, you can use that paragraph as a road map to writing your essay or research paper. You might also want to try a formal outline or just re-work your mind map.
This is where you fill in the gaps. Add as many supporting details as you can: descriptions, facts, figures, reasons, explanations, definitions, etc. Write as much as you can. Don’t worry yet if it is good. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or word count. The point of this step is to get everything from your mind to the paper so that you can work with it later.
The Evaluating step is when you stop and think more critically about what you write. Ask yourself these questions:
The best feedback comes from your readers, so share your work with your peers (classmates) and your teacher. Visit a tutor or the Reading Writing Center in the library. Get as much feedback from them as possible — and then decide which changes are necessary and which depend on your style. However, in this step, remember to focus on content and organization.
|R||Revising and Editing||
This last step actually has two parts: revising and editing. Revising makes big changes — and that’s OK! You can add, delete, or move words, sentences, or even whole paragraphs! This is a natural part of the writing process. When you think you have finished, then it’s time for editing. In this phase, you will look at the little things: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and formatting. Follow the assignment instructions carefully to make sure that your essay looks as good as the information it contains.
INSTRUCTIONS: Let’s apply this process to writing a paragraph about social media.
In your opinion, is social media a good thing or a bad thing?
- Prewrite: Draw a mind map or use another method to brainstorm.
- Organize: Choose information from step #1 and put it in order.
- Write: Use your notes from step #2 to write a paragraph with a topic sentence and supporting details.
- Evaluate: Exchange with a classmate. Read each other’s paragraph. Provide feedback:
- Is the topic and claim or controlling idea clearly stated?
- Did the writer explain everything in detail?
- Is everything related to the topic?
- Does it flow well? Is everything in a logical order or sequence?
- Does it make sense?
- Has the writer “cited” their sources? In other words, has the writer explained where they got any special information?
- Revise and rewrite: Now write a second draft.
- Collect all of your work and show it to your instructor.