The Writing Process

As you prepare to write, review the assignment instructions carefully and be sure you understand your instructor’s expectations for your writing assignment, such as: 

  • expected length and due date for your paper
  • resources you are expected to use (or to avoid)
  • goals you are expected to accomplish in the paper
  • purpose of the assignment

Reading a completed academic essay reveals little about the process that leads to a writer’s final product. Many students imagine that writers should simply read a bit, reflect a little, then sit down and write continuously from beginning to end. While there may be a few writers who sometimes work this way, the writing process is almost always more complex – messy, meandering and recursive.

Assuming that writing is a smooth linear process can actually hold you back; it can lead to feelings of confusion and incompetence that make it difficult to get started. In fact, it is perfectly normal to have false starts, second thoughts, and multiple revisions. These aspects are typical of a productive writing process. See the Time Management module for strategies to assist your planning.