In this course, you will focus on both the process of writing and the product of writing. That’s because writing is recursive. Recursive means circling back and repeating some steps in the process. As many people say, “good writing comes from rewriting.” It’s more than sitting down and typing something. Please avoid the “one and done” attitude (writing one draft and stopping). 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 writing process. However, there is a basic pattern that is useful for any student of writing. You can remember the steps by its initials: P.O.W.E.R. And it is a method that gives you — as the writer — the power to not only write faster, but also to write so that others can better understand your meaning.
P = Prewriting
Collect your information. This might mean making a list, drawing a mind map, or free-writing. 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.)
O = Organization
Now you need to take those pieces of information — the combination of your research and what you know — and create a map of your essay. This might be a formal outline. It might be a graphic organizer. It might even be a simple list of information with similar items grouped together or put in order. This is when you can check for missing information and also start to see the flow of your essay.
W = Writing
This is when 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.
E = Evaluate
Now is the time to stop and think more critically about what you write. Ask yourself these questions:
- Did I explain everything in detail?
- Is everyone related to my topic?
- Does it flow well? Is everything in a logical order or sequence?
- Does it make sense?
- Have I cited my sources? In other words, have I told my readers where I got my information?
The best feedback comes from your readers, so share your work with your peers (classmates) and your teacher and/or visit a tutor. 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 step has two parts: revising and editing.
Rewriting 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 look at the little things: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and formatting. Follow the instructions on the assignment sheet to make sure that your essay looks as good as the information it contains.
Now practice with this exercise; it is not graded, and you may repeat it as many times as you wish:
CHOOSING YOUR TOPIC
In this course, you write a series of essays. At the end of the course, you combine these individual essays into one formal research paper. But first, you need to choose a topic. The theme is technology in your career or hobby. Here are some examples from previous students:
- How 3D Printing Could Change the Fashion Industry
- Uses of the iPad For Pedagogical Purposes in Early Childhood Education in the U.S.
- Benefits of Technology in the Fight against Breast Cancer
- The Role of Contemporary Technologies in the Music Festivals Industry of the 2020s
- If Space Travel Would Be Common, What Would Happen?
- Cloud Accounting – Accounting of the Future
First, choose a topic that you want to write about. You will use this one topic throughout the course. Remember: Your topic will be about technology in your career or hobby.
Second, answer these questions about your topic:
- What is the field/industry/career you want to write about?
- What is the technology or technologies you want to write about?
Here is a sample research proposal in the form of a brief email from a student to an instructor:
Here is my proposal for a research topic for Level 8 Writing.
I am interested in writing about the fashion industry.
I want to learn more about the effects of 3D printing on fast fashion.
Please let me know if this topic works for this project.
In the example above, you can see that fashion is the career of this student, and 3D printing is the technology they want to research and write about.
Narrowing YOUR Topic
Some text has been adapted from Advanced Writing Handbook for ESOL, Fourth Edition, by John Sparks, Portland Community College
Narrowing the topic of your paper is an important skill to practice. It means making your topic more specific. And it makes your job as a writer easier, but it also makes your writing more interesting and useful for your reader. If you choose a very general subject, you might end up writing a whole book! Imagine an assignment to write about your city. There is way too much to say about Portland for a research paper of only a few pages. The result would be too vague (general and unclear) to be interesting or useful. Therefore, you must narrow your topic so that you can tell your reader as many interesting details as possible.
Example #1: My city
Step 1: Portland
Step 2: Portland: downtown
Step 3: Portland: downtown: waterfront park
Step 4: Portland: downtown: waterfront park: summer
Step 5: Portland: downtown: waterfront park: summer: during a festival
Step 6: Portland: downtown: waterfront park: summer: during a festival: at night
Notice that even steps 2 and 3 are still too vague. Will your paper be about shopping? Protests and demonstrations? Homeless people? Recreation? Litter? It’s unclear. However, by step 6, you now have a more specific topic that is interesting and useful to your reader: Portland’s downtown waterfront park in summer during a festival at night.
Example #2: Technology in my career or hobby
Step 1: Teaching
Step 2: Teaching English
Step 3: Teaching English remotely
Step 4: Using Zoom to teach English remotely
Step 5: Using Zoom to teach English grammar remotely
Step 6: The best ways to use Zoom to teach English grammar remotely
Do you see how Step 6 is a much more focused, useful, relevant, and interesting topic for a short essay? You know exactly the information that you need to research, and you know exactly the information that you are going to share with your readers.
Example #3: Technology in my career or hobby
Step 1: Clothing
Step 2: Technology in clothing
Step 3: Technology in clothing to stay healthy
Step 4: Technology in clothing to measure vital signs to stay healthy
Step 5: Future technology in clothing that measure vital signs to stay healthy
Step 6: What are examples of future technology in clothing that measure vital signs in order to stay healthy?
Choose one of the following options to practice narrowing the topic:
Option 1: Social Media
Option 2: Family
Option 3: Entertainment (music, movies, books, art, etc.)
Think about the technology that you chose to write about in this course. Now use this method to narrow your topic further.