Writing Processes

Based on scholarship and research in the field of Writing Studies, the term "writing process" refers to a suite of attitudes about composition and literacy practices. Based on this body of work, faculty assume writing processes may differ from person to person and that different projects may affect which composing strategies are employed. Since the early 1980s, writing instructors have tended to restructure their courses so that students have greater opportunities to revise their work in response to instructor and/or peer feedback. Despite this emphasis on "process writing," research in Writing Studies suggests students often submit early drafts for grading.

Thinking rhetorically about one's audience and purpose, collaborating, researching, organizing texts for readers at "global" and "local levels," maintaining focus, practicing diverse invention strategies, designing one's format rhetorically, revising, editing, and publishing—these are some of the dominant activities that characterize what is broadly conceived of as "the writing process." 

Believing & Doubting

The Writing Process is bounded by two contrary actions: believing and doubting.

A range of writing activities, behaviors, and attitudes can enhance—or thwart—your ability to write successfully in college or in work-place settings. However, no factor is more important than playing the believing game, which simply means staying positive, ignoring the internal critic, and having faith in the writing process—faith that with revision, lousy first drafts can become effective, maybe even elegant. As hard as it sometimes is to stay positive while working on a document, give yourself encouraging, energizing messages, such as "I can do this ... I have enough time ... I'm smart enough ..."  If you find your thinking/writing process to be undercut by negative, energy-draining messages, pull out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left-hand side, write down the negative message. Then, on the right-hand side, write a more affirming message, one that either contradicts the negative statement or that shows a way around the problem. While ideally it makes sense to play the believing game during the time you're working on the document, you may find it most helpful to emphasize believing during the early stages of a writing project and doubting in the final stages.


Play the Believing Game

During the early stages of the writing process, you can work more productively by setting aside doubt and playing the believing game, a "game" that is characterized by having faith in the writing process—faith that with additional work, you will develop effective writing habits.

Thinking rhetorically, collaborating, researching, organizing, focusing, and using invention strategies—these are the sorts of activities you need to practice to engage your creative self, to be as productive as possible.

Play the Doubting Game

While playing the believing game is critical to the Writing Process, at times you need to play the doubting game—that is, examining your ideas and drafts in a critical (even hypercritical) manner. On occasion, you need to step back and ask yourself critical questions, such as "Am I providing the narrative that my readers need to find my analysis compelling? Is my evidence truly credible? Jeez, is this wordy? Can I say the same thing in half the word count?"

Organizing, focusing, inventing, formatting, revising, editing, and publishing—these activities are essential to playing the doubting game, a process that is invariably necessary as you work your way toward meaning, significance, and clarity.