Composing Processes

Be strategic and creative about how you manage writing tasks. Work productively with others. Experience the generative power of language. Use writing to advance your thinking and knowledge.

The Composing Process, most generally, refers to how a writer writes–whatever actions or intellectual processes a writer does to get the work done, such as Invention, Writing with Sources, Collaboration, Design, Organization, Revision, Editing.

The Composing Process is sometimes referred to as

  • Composing, Drafting, or Writing
  • The Creative Process
  • The Writing Process.

At times composing seems to be fairly simple. Some rhetorical situations require little planning, research, revising or editing, such as

  • a grocery list, a to-do list, a reflection on the day’s activity in a journal
  • documents you routinely write, such as the professor’s letter of recommendation, a bosses’ performance appraisal, a ground-water engineer’s contamination report.

Typically, however, composing is challenging. This is especially true

As an example of the challenging nature of composing, consider everything you do when you try to write something of value.

To create substantive prose, you

How writers compose–the processes they employ for specific writing tasks–is dynamic and contextual. There is no one ideal composing process. Rather, different writing projects call for different approaches to composing.

Because composing is so complex, many models of composing have been proposed. It seems at times there are as many models of composing as there are writers.

See Also Research & Theory on Composing Processes

Protocol analysis of writers at work (a method that asks writers to speak out loud what they are thinking as they compose) and other research on composing has found writers often engage in Invention, Writing with Sources, Collaboration, Design, Organization, Revision, Editing.

Works Cited

Bartholomae, David. (1986). “Inventing the University.” Journal of Basic Writing 5:1, p 4-23, https://wac.colostate.edu/jbw/v5n1/bartholomae.pdf.

CBS (206). https://www.cbs.com/shows/macgyver/news/1005839/the-notorious-tools-of-mac

Gyver-s-trade. Accessed 2/15/19.

Heath, Shirley Brice (1983). Ways with Words. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fulkerson, Richard. (2005). “Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century.” CCC 56.4 (Jun. 2005): 654-687.

Gendlin, Eugene (1978). Focusing. New York: Everest House,  pp. 35.

Hairston, Maxine (1982). The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Revolution in the Teaching of Writing. College Composition and Communication 33:1.

Kent, Thomas (1999). Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm,Thomas Kent, ed. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP,

National Research Council. (2012). Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. J.W. Pellegrino and M.L. Hilton (Eds.), Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills, Center for Education, Board on Testing and Assessment, Division of Behavioral

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017). Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press.

Perl, Sondra (1980).  “Understanding Composing,” College Composition and Communication) pp. 363-369.

Vygotsky, Lev. (1983).  Thought and Language. MIT Press.