ALL students must learn to write, but this skill is a biggie. There are many common struggles with writing:
- Not knowing how or where to start
- Not knowing what to write about
- Ideas going all over the place
- Lack of clear ideas
One of the biggest reasons students have ANY of these problems with writing is simply because they don’t have a clear understanding of the writing process. This process is something all students should know back and forth, something that should be reiterated each and every year of school. Unfortunately, most kids don’t have a good grasp on this and schools don’t take enough time to strengthen this critical foundation.
Here’s a pithy video explaining everything you need to know. Feel free to print the simple guide below and share it. I recommend pinning a copy up near the study area for reference until it is thoroughly internalized.
The Writing Process
Good authors use this process for everything they write.
Audience: First, carefully consider who you writing for?
Purpose: What are you trying to get the reader to feel, think, or do?
- Planning (aka Pre-writing): The most important part of the process requires a bit of time. This is also the most underused part of the process. When people do not plan thoughtfully, their writing becomes very disorganized. Examples pf planning methods: Brainstorm, thinking, talking it through, imagine, visualize, lists, graphic organizers, outlines, webs, story maps, post its, note cards or anything else that helps plan writing.
- Drafting: Get it on paper in an organized manner. The focus is on expanding your “plan” ideas into sentences and paragraphs, not on perfection. There should be cross outs, eraser marks, arrows, markups, etc. all over the draft.
- Revising: Polish and clarify your ideas, check that your purpose is being met. Authors revise many times.
- Editing: Polish MUGS (mechanics, usage, grammar, spelling).
- Publishing: Get it as perfect as possible. Neat, organized, ready for a reader to read. The paper fulfills your purpose. Perhaps include a cover page. Turn it in.
Note: During planning, plan the structure. Here’s a very basic model. For each section, ask yourself this magic question, “What is the purpose of this section?”:
- Body section 1
- Body section 2
- Body section 3
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All right, everybody. Hello, what’s up, this is Seth with SethPerler.com. I’m here to teach you some very important stuff today about the writing process. Don’t turn this video off. You must listen to this. I don’t care if you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student, especially if you’re a middle, school, high school, or college student. Okay, you need to understand the writing process. I do not care if you’re writing a haiku, or if you’re writing a 20-page essay, or if you’re writing a masters thesis. You need to understand the writing process inside. This will apply to every single thing you write. The reason that I’m telling you not to turn this off and to watch this is because if you understand the structure of the writing process and you have that structure in the back of your head, it will help you with everything you have to write. It will give you a foundation place for your writing to go from. Okay. So everything uses the writing process, anything you write. I’m also going to give you some tips and ideas about what people mess up about this and if you’re the type of writer where you’re writing tends to go in a million different directions, this is definitely for you. So you definitely want to be listening to this. So here’s how I’m going to start here. Oww, I just kicked my foot.
Number 1: the first stage of the writing process. There are a total of five parts to the writing process. Five parts. Number one is the plan. The first thing you need to do in the writing process is to plan your writing. That could be a brainstorm, a web, a list, an outline, or a bunch of random ideas. Planning is also called prewriting, and this could also include daydreaming or thinking. A lot of people, a lot of students, might be thinking in class, and teachers might be saying “Get to work!” but you’re sitting there thinking and thinking and thinking about your story. That’s valid. That is part of your prewriting, your imagination. You might be laying on the couch for an hour imagining what you’re going to write whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. That is valid. But basically, the plan in the prewriting, that’s the first part of the writing process. Anything that’s going to help you generate ideas and plan and sketch out where the papers going to go. This is very important. Now I’m going to say something very important about the plan before I get on to step two, and that is that the number one thing that people skimp on and don’t put enough effort into is the plan. The plan is the number one most important part of the paper. You spend 5 minutes on your plan and you would just spend 15 to 20 minutes on your plan, which would change your entire writing literally for the rest of your life because if you don’t plan your writing and structure it and give it a place to go, it’s going to go all over the place in a bunch of different directions. It’s going to make no sense and you’re going to waste a ton of time in the writing process that you don’t need to waste trying to reel it in and make sense of it. So the most important part of the writing process is the plan and the most neglected part of the writing process is the plan. That’s what I want you to focus on more than you think you should. Really structure it out, plan your intro, your body, your conclusion, and what’s the purpose of each one. I’ll get on to the next part real soon. You want to be planning what the purpose of those are. So here is the one question if I say to you, “what are you trying to say in that paragraph?” You should have an answer for me. So if I say, “What’s the point of your intro?” you should say, “well I’m trying to tell them that these are the main things I’m going to teach them about.” If I say, “what’s the purpose of this body paragraph?” you’re answer should be, “the purpose of this body paragraph is to tell the reader X.“
Number 2. A lot of you probably know what number 2 is – it’s the draft. Do not worry about handwriting. Do not worry about spelling. Do not worry about neatness. Do not worry about grammar, mechanics, usage. Don’t worry about any of that stuff when you’re drafting. Now a lot of adults will say, “oh you did this wrong or that wrong,” I hate the word wrong. Don’t worry about it. When you’re drafting, all you are doing is mental of vomit. Get the ideas out. Now you’re drafting into a structure, into an outline, into the planned paper. That’s awesome because that’s going to keep. Imagine that each paragraph of your paper is a bucket and you got to have your mental vomit into the right bucket, okay. You want the right ideas going into the right bucket. If you’re drafting like that, it can be messy. It can go in more directions, a lot of your ideas from your draft are going to be garbage. You’re going to erase sentences, delete sentences. You’re going to get rid of ideas, but on the drafting part of the writing process, you just want to get your ideas out. Don’t be too critical on yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be perfectionistic. Get the ideas out there because this is about conveying ideas. Okay, your brain works very fast. So get those ideas out there. Don’t be worrying too much about other things. So first you’re going to plan to get a structure, figure out where you’re going. What’s the beginning, what’s the middle, what’s the end? Then draft. Just get the ideas in there. Now you need to take your draft and you need to think about sculpting clay. You need to form it into the right sculpture. Okay. So each paragraph is its own micro sculpture that has a point, it’s conveying something to the audience. So after you draft to do two things: (1) revise (2) edit. Now revising and editing is a circular process, they interchange, they go back and forth.
Number 3. Let me explain the difference between revising and editing and why I put revision at number three and not number four. The revision has to do with clarifying ideas, revision has to do with making your ideas clear to the reader. Revision has to do with revision, making it clear to the reader. Okay, make sense?
Number 4. The editing has to do with MUGS. Mechanics, Usage, Grammar, Spelling. Mechanics, Usage, Grammar, Spelling. Punctuation, word flow, all those things. That’s the mechanics, that’s editing. Editing is more technical. It’s fixing everything. Revising has to do with ideas. Okay clarifying ideas in this is more of the technical. Now, what’s happened here as you planned and you made the bucket, you do not have to follow the plan. Very very very very very very very, very important. You don’t have to follow the plan. Make the plan but you don’t need to follow it. Once you’re in the revision stage, actually probably in drafting somewhat too, but you’re going to be changing the plan. You’re going to realize that your plan was short-sighted. It has to be. Anybody who’s a good writer, people who write novels, people who write non-fiction books, they have a plan but they change it because it evolves as you’re going through the writing process and revising and editing. And after your draft is that your molding ideas just like I use the analogy of clay and you’re changing ideas. So don’t worry about that. You’re allowed to change the plans So you’re revising your ideas and you’re editing and refining, refining, refining. Now this part of the process, the revision and the editing part of the process takes a long time. This is a huge part of your writing process to make it clear. This is where you should ask your parents or friends or teachers or tutors or anybody who you respect how they write or how they think, asked them to revise and edit for you. Don’t depend on yourself. It’s foolish and unnecessary. Ask if, “hey can you look over my paper? Can you give me some ideas, give me some feedback,” and look at their feedback. You don’t have to like what they said and you don’t have to agree with what they said, but you have to consider what they said in terms of the evidence. It’s not personal. It’s not about you. They’re trying to help you so ask them for their help and then consider what they tell you but you don’t have to use their edits, but you should always consider what they’re telling you to do.
Number 5: The final part of the writing process is, that’s right, publish. Some people call this final draft, I don’t care, it’s the same thing publishing. Basically you ever revised an edited so much that you’ve got your sculpture to a place where it feels complete. And publishing is not done until you’ve turned it in. So if you’re in school and you are doing this for a teacher, if you haven’t turned it, in it’s not published. Just telling you. If you haven’t clicked publish and it’s a blog, you haven’t published it. Published means it’s as polished and as perfect as you can make it or as you’re willing to make it. Sometimes you just have to turn it in even though it’s not where you want it and that’s quite often the case for a writer. That’s okay because that will make you a better writer in the future. Anyway, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. But it’s as polished as you can possibly do at this point, get it in. A lot of my students are perfectionists and don’t get him in and then get a horrible grade because they put too much pressure on themselves to get it perfect. Don’t worry about that. Just get it and get it done.
In the writing process, there are five steps to the writing process. Number one: plan your paper, brainstorms, lists, outlines, all those things make your buckets essentially. Two, draft the ideas. Vomit the ideas, get them out there. Start getting them in the right place though, in the right bucket. Okay, but start getting those ideas out. Don’t worry about anything but idea generation, get your ideas into the draft. Three and four, revise and edit Now look at your draft and make your ideas more and more and more and more and more clear and use editing to polish up the punctuation and spelling and grammar and mechanics and everything. Five, and then finally after you’ve done your editing and revising enough you’re ready to publish to turn it in. Now don’t forget that you want to use other people to do this. So this is all you need to know and even if like I said at the beginning, even if you’re writing a haiku, you’re actually going through the writing process. Although you’re planning your prewriting might be more in your head. You’re not going to do a bunch of written out planning. But believe it or not, all of these steps are necessary for whatever type of writing, and now that you know the structure you can apply to whatever writing you’re going to do.
What I’m going to do for you with this blog is I’ll put it on my website and I’ll put a PDF downloadable sheet on there that will explain all this with clear details so you can stick it up on your wall or wherever you want and you can refer to it just to help you until it becomes integrated into your brain and you’ve got it and you don’t have to think about it anymore. Once you get this, like I said, you will have this process for the rest of your life. It is a tried-and-true structure that works. It’s reliable, it’s something that will help you. I hope you have an awesome day, I hope that your writing is awesome. And if it’s not, know that that’s just part of your developing as a writer and it’s all part of it. It’s all good. All right, take care and be well.
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