A Writer’s Process (Part 2)
February 28, 2014

A Writer’s Process (Part Two)

Part 1 of this series discussed prewriting steps including topic development, brainstorming, research, and outline. For this second piece, let’s take a look at the drafting steps, which include rough drafting, revision, and peer workshop.

Step four of the writing process is also step one of the drafting steps. Simply, this is writing a crappy first draft. In the crappy rough draft, a writer takes all those prewriting ideas and just writes a really bad rough draft. This draft will likely have development issues (either overdeveloped or underdeveloped), editing problems (grammar, punctuation, language, and sentence structure), organization and flow issues, and just generally be bad. The beauty of the crappy first draft is that a writer gets the piece onto paper even in a raw, rough form. There is freedom in not having to think about perfection, and the crappy first draft allows that.

Once writers write the crappy first draft, then they move into revision, the fifth step of a writing process. Perhaps the most important step in the drafting process is revision. Revision is when a writer fixes all those mistakes, reorganizes so that the piece flows, develops so that it fully explains, analyzes, provides examples, and generally affects its readers, and tweaks the piece so that it moves toward finished product. I cannot express how important it is to revise, revise, revise. All writers do better when they revise.

To help the revision process, one should also engage in peer workshopping. This step consists of asking a friend, colleague, professor, or writer otherwise to give feedback on a draft. This is important because sometimes others see issues, problem, or mistakes that we do not otherwise catch. Now, of course, a peer workshop does not ensure that all the mistakes are caught, and writers do not always fix each little mistake through revision, but the more peer workshop and revision one does, the better a piece will be.

The other thing to consider with peer workshop is that it simply provides suggestions for future revision; this does not mean that a writer must change every suggestion a peer workshop provides. After all, a writer wants his or her piece to be representative of that individual, so take the peer workshop suggestions and apply those that best fit with the tone, voice, and intent of the written work.

After peer workshop, writers must then engage in a second round of drafting and revision. Again, the more one revises, the better the piece will be. Eventually, the writer will reach a point where he or she feels the piece is complete. At this point, a student turns in the essay or a writer submits the piece to an editor or a publishing house. Both then wait for feedback on all the hard work.

So, it may seem silly to consider a writing process, but this can be incredibly helpful for many people. Students can produce the best essays possible while writers can use it to publish their best works. And if one just writes for him- or herself, a writing process can help focus personal writing as well. A writing process breaks down and demystifies the magic of writing. The benefits of a writing process will make writing less intimidating and hopefully more enjoyable for those who struggle with the activity.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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