Perfecting Your Writing Process: A Lot of Writing and a Little Dancing

What we think the writing process looks like:

What the writing process actually looks like:writing_process_2 copy

The writing process is not linear, which I have certainly learned as I’ve continued to compose throughout graduate school. My writing process may begin in a linear fashion, with prewriting and drafting, but as I continue it becomes more jumbled, like in the second picture above. In reality, drafting may reveal that you need to go back to the drawing board and do some more research or critical thinking before revising. Or you may do some line editing in one paragraph before scrapping or revising another. The writing process isn’t cookie cutter, as much as we want it to be, and it differs from one person to the next, which means there is no single process or formula for guaranteed success.

As a meticulous writer and student, I honestly never procrastinate. When I work on a paper, I do so over a long span of time long before the paper is due. For each stage in my process, I set my own deadlines to ensure I stay on task and complete the assignment without ever feeling the perspiration that comes with procrastination anxiety or pulling an all-nighter. My writing process looks something like this:


Yes, the happy dance is a must.

I think it’s extremely important that, although all of our processes may not include making and meeting personal deadlines, we leave enough time for revision. When I write, I need time away from my paper so that when I return to it I can more easily recognize any errors or parts I just don’t like. The bonus to doing assignments early is that you have time after completing them to seriously think about what can be added or changed in the written product. Maybe more inspiration will come in the days that follow the completion of what you believed was a final draft. It’s totally okay to do the happy dance and then make additional revisions to what had been your final version of an essay. The happy dance will come again with the next draft, and the next, but the best dance will come when a paper is handed in that reflects 100% effort, planning, and contemplation.

writing_process_2 cwe

Writing is challenging, so be sure to celebrate your achievements!

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  • Danielle says:

    I wish that I could get into the habit of starting and ending early. I have always idealized that sort of writing process. I have some papers coming up and I am going to try (no promises!) to take your advice and start early. The stress and anxiety that comes with procrastinating really is terrible, even though I procrastinate all of the time.

    p.s. I love your drawing and your last picture!

  • Janet says:

    The visuals for this are great. It’s hard enough for writers to write without worrying that they are not following steps 1 through 10! Your circles with lots of arrows back and forth and the dancing characters immediately tell writers that there is confusion, starting over, and joy when they finally capture their meaning!

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  • Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the
    book in it or something. I think that you can do with some
    pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead
    of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  • Excellent work always good to come across a really thoughtful post.

  • technology says:

    Would be quite interesting to see other opinions regarding this.


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