Understanding the Writing Process
Dr. Mary Deane
Welcome to the second part of the ‘Understanding the Writing Process’, this article will look at the final parts of the five-stage process, Practicing, Peer Review and Polishing. It you haven’t already, check out Part 1: Essay Writing Process.
The most time-consuming part of the writing process is when you really get down to drafting. Personally, I am most effective at drafting in the morning, and I cannot concentrate for longer than an hour at a time. I NEED to have coffee, and I like to have music that puts me in a good mood. When you’re drafting, stick to your plan to an extent, but be prepared to re-work the plan if you get a brainwave!
Keep an eye on your impending deadline. Drafting should be done well before you need to submit. SO many people submit a draft for assessment. If you take time to get feedback first and revise your work, you will obtain a higher grade than your initial draft could ever merit.
4. Peer review
Once you have a draft, you need to seek some feedback to support your revising work. It’s best to line up a friend, partner, colleague, or ANYone, in advance, and ask him or her to protect time to read your work and speak with you about it. This will also help you produce the draft early, giving you time to get the distance you need on your work that will help you see it more clearly, and enable you to see the weaknesses for yourself.
When you respond to feedback from someone else, you don’t need to follow all the advice. The work is your own, and you must feel confidence and confident about both the content and the organisation of ideas.
Here are some tips to help your focus your revising work:
- What was your assignment brief? Has this been fulfilled?
- What is your main argument? Is this crystal clear?
- What is your evidence supporting your argument? Is this convincing, and documented using the recommended referencing style?
- How have you organised your ideas? Could your reader follow the line of argument easily?
The final phase of the writing process is editing. This involves either reading your own work aloud, and listening to the flow (or lack of this), or, ask a friend to proofread your essay and let you know where it is expressed awkwardly.
At this late stage, you should only be making small changes, checking the font, pagination, presentation, and other minor issues that contribute to an impression of professionalism.
Aim to have your essay ready to submit in advance of the deadline. This gives you a ‘buffer zone’ in case you are ill, lacking motivation, or enjoying yourself too much to stick to the timeframe of production you had planned.
I believe that the key to success in academic writing is the way you feel about it. I recommend the process approach to you because in my experience, it enhances writers’ motivation to get down to work, stay focused, and finish with the least possible stress.
The process should not end with an exhausted handing in or online submission, and a feeling of flatness – but with happy relief that you have managed the process in the best way you can, and that you have a moment of freedom – before the next deadline looms.
So, enjoy the feeling of being in control of your writing, and enjoy yourself, when you come gracefully to the end of the writing road for a particular piece of work.