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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.

Whenever you incorporate outside sources into your own writing, you must provide both in-text citations (within the body of the paper) and full citations (in the works cited page). The in-text citations point your reader toward the full citations in the works cited page.

That's why the first bit of information in your in-text citation (generally, the author's name; if no name is provided, the title of the article/book/webpage) should directly match up with the beginning of your works cited entry for that source.

In what ways does your opening engage your reader?

Writers who produce engaging openings keep their audience in mind from the very first sentence. They consider the tone, pace, delivery of information, and strategies for getting the reader’s attention. Many teachers generally recommend that students write their introductions last, because oftentimes introductions are the hardest paragraphs to write.

They’re difficult to write first because you have to consider what the reader needs to know about your topic before getting to the thesis.

In what manner have you reiterated your ideas? What have you left your reader to think about at the end of your paper? How does your paper answer the “So what?” question?

As the last part of the paper, conclusions often get the short shrift. We instructors know (not that we condone it)—many students devote a lot less attention to the writing of the conclusion. Some students might even finish their conclusion thirty minutes before they have to turn in their papers. But even if you’re practicing desperation writing, don’t neglect your conclusion; it’s a very integral part of your paper.

Enhance the likelihood that readers will respond favorably to your document by projecting an effective voice, tone, and persona.Voice, Tone, and Persona are slippery terms/concepts. In some instances, these terms can be used interchangeably, yet important differences do exist.

Voice

The term voice may be used to define a writer's stance toward his subject or readers.

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.

Effective paragraph transitions signal to readers how two consecutive paragraphs relate to each other. The transition signals the relationship between the “new information” and the “old information.”

For example, the new paragraph might

  • elaborate on the idea presented in the preceding paragraph
  • introduce a related idea
  • continue a chronological narrative
  • describe a problem with the idea presented in the preceding paragraph
  • describe an exception to the idea presented in the preceding paragraph
  • describe a consequence or implication of the idea presented in the preceding paragraph        

You need a good thesis statement for your essay but are having trouble getting started. You may have heard that your thesis needs to be specific and arguable, but still wonder what this really means.

Let’s look at some examples. Imagine you’re writing about John Hughes’s film Sixteen Candles (1984).

You take a first pass at writing a thesis:

Sixteen Candles is a romantic comedy about high school cliques.

Two Types of Essays

Your composition professor has given you an assignment, requiring you to write an essay in which you identify your favorite book and explain why you like it best. Later she assigns an essay in which you take a stand either for or against homeschooling.

Both assignments require you to write a paper, yet the essays called for are in two different genres. Thus, you will need to present your views in two different ways.

1. Is the heading in the upper left-hand corner of the first page? 

2. Does the heading include:

  • Your name?
  • Your Instructor's name?
  • The course name?
  • The date?

3. Does the paper have an original title (other than something like "Final Paper")?

Writing, thinking, creating — these acts are bounded by two contrary processes: believing and ;doubting. For many student writers — for many people, in fact — being critical and judgmental can come easily. Hence, the truism "it's easier to critique them to create" (Alcott). Yet it is especially important, especially in the early stages of a writing project, for writers to put doubt and criticism aside.

Learn how to play the believing game. Rather than being hypercritical of your work. Energize your work by focusing on more positive messages.

Understand the role of revision in the lives of successful writers.

Our fast-paced, consumer-driven society is geared to offer a remarkable number of choices in nanoseconds. If the fast-food chain doesn't deliver lunch within sixty seconds, it's free. With a push of a button, people who live in large metropolitan areas can run through as many as 100 different channels on cable television.

While playing the believing game–setting aside doubt and overly critical comments–is crucial during the writing process, playing the doubting game is equally important, especially during the latter stages of the writing process.   Successful writing partially rests on being critical and reflective about your rhetorical situation, the quality of your evidence, and the best way to organize a document for reader. Other doubting game activities include: OrganizeFocusInventFormatEditRevise, and Publish.

Although individual writing processes are vastly different, composition scholarship provides evidence of patterns across disparate writing methodologies. This section identifies and explains some of the most notable patterns of successful compositionists. We suggest that successful compositionist practice some of the following strategies: Return, Revise, Risk, Reject. 

Learn the beliefs that empower successful academic authors.

To become a competent, confident writer, you may find it useful to analyze your attitudes about writing. After all, your assumptions about how writers work can limit your imagination and the quality of your finished product. You can debunk a truckload of myths about writing by analyzing how you write, how your peers write, and how professional writers write.

Use a variety of invention strategies to stimulate your creative abilities.

Many people do not perceive themselves as creative. They reserve the terms "creative" or "innovative" for people who write literature, create art work, invent products, or lead scientific breakthroughs. People who develop new theories, products, and ideas certainly deserve to be called "creative" or"innovative," yet the vast majority of us can be creative, too.

Just about everyone has moments of despair and doubt about their writing. After countless hours and the feeling that your work has been futile, that you have not clearly expressed an important concept or relationship, you may feel the urge to give up, to abandon the project.

But you can't give up. To be a successful writer (or really, to be a successful person) you need to emphasize believing. Especially in the beginning of a writing project, you need to set aside doubt, self-criticism, and despair. You need to emphasize the positive. After all, down the line, when your work is graded or critiqued by readers, you'll have plenty of time for self-criticism and doubt.

In what ways have you fulfilled the assignment requirements as they relate to audience, appropriate persona/tone, and rhetorical stance? Why is this word choice/diction inappropriate (conversational) for your audience? What might be more appropriate?

For students and teachers alike, most writing occurs in non-academic settings—notes, e-mails, Facebook posts, blogs, shopping lists, etc. In these writing settings, it is perfectly fine to “write as you speak,” using a conversational tone and slang terms.

The main idea. The argument of an essay. The thesis. It’s a tricky thing to define “thesis” because theses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. A thesis can be a sentence, two sentences, perhaps even an entire paragraph. Every thesis, though, regardless of where in an essay it appears, does a few important things:

  1. A thesis acts as a unifying idea for every piece of evidence in an essay.
  2. A thesis results from research in addition to the writer’s own beliefs or opinions.
  3. A thesis answers a specific question.

"If you can't write online in today's global business economy, you cannot compete."

It is important to perceive writing and the writing process as long-term assets.

This means that:

  • learning to write well now can - and will - invite exciting professional opportunities

  • writing well enables more efficient and comprehensive learning of academic material, as well as insightful and productive learning about yourself, your everyday thoughts and emotions, and how these attributes affect your quality of life? What role does writing play in thinking and learning? 

What types of questions do writers need to ask themselves and reflect upon to create stronger content?

  1. What assumptions about writing and research do you hold that intrude on regular writing? For example, do you assume that you first need to do the research and then the writing? Are you uncomfortable writing without having thoroughly completed the research?
  2. What social supports can you establish to promote regular writing? Can you arrange, for example, to discuss ideas for writing projects with informed friends? Do the people you live with respect your need for quiet time when developing projects? Do you know people who can provide you with encouragement when you are feeling discourage about the worthiness or potential of an idea?

Enhance your creative potential and ability to communicate effectively by experimenting with different writing strategies.

Writing theorists and researchers have found there is no one perfect writing process. The strategies you need to use are likely to vary from project to project. The amount of time you give to each writing strategy is influenced by the genre of the writing task, your personality, schedule, and writing habits. Your background as a writer and unique circumstances influence how you develop, design, organize, and share writing.