Dr. Sandi Van Lieu

First drafts don't have to be perfect. They just have to be written.

Stages of the Writing Process

There are several stages to the Writing Process. Each stage is essential.
  1. Pre-writing
  2. Writing (Drafting)
  3. Revising
  4. Editing
                                                                                                                                                 Royalty Free Image from Wikimedia

1. Pre-writing

During the pre-writing stage,  choose and narrow your topic. You should be able to answer “yes” to these three questions about your topic:

  1. Does it interest me?
  2. Do I have something to say about it?
  3. Is it specific?
During the pre-writing stage, determine your audience. Ask yourself:
  • Who are my readers?
  • What do my readers know about my topic?
  • What do my readers need to know about my topic?
  • How do my readers feel about my topic?
During the pre-writing stage, determine your purpose. Your purpose is the reason you are writing. Whenever you write, you always have a purpose. Most writing fits into one of these three categories:
  • To express
  • To inform
  • To persuade
More than one of these may be used, but one will be primary.
During the pre-writing stage, determine your tone and point-of-view. Tone is the mood or attitude you adopt as you write. It can be be:
  • Serious or frivolous/humorous
  • Intimate or detached
  • Academic/formal
 Point-of-view is the perspective from which you write an essay. There are 3 points-of-view:
  • First person—”I, we”
  • Second person—”you”
  • Third person—”he, she, they”
Note: Most instructors prefer that students only use third person, academic voice in their essays. Follow your instructor’s directions and ask if you aren’t sure.
Pre-writing techniques can be used to explore your topic. There are several choices of pre-writing techniques, including:
  • Brainstorming/Listing
  • Freewriting
  • Clustering/Mapping
  • Questioning
  • Discussing
  • Outlining

2. Writing (Drafting)

During drafting, you should compose a FULL rough draft. A draft is the first whole version of all your ideas put together. The basics of a good draft:

  • Has a fully developed introduction and conclusion
  • Has fully developed body paragraphs, each containing a topic sentence, and examples and details from the text(s) as support

3. Revising

Revising is finding and correcting problems with content; changing the ideas in your writing to make them clearer, stronger, and more convincing.

  • Revising looks at important areas such as essay structure, organization, and sentence structure.
  • You should read through your essay numerous times during this stage.

4. Editing

Editing is finding and correcting problems with grammar, style, word choice/usage, and punctuation. In addition:

  • Editing focuses on smaller details and involves proofreading.
  • Editing also involves making sure citations and the Works Cited are correct.

*You’ll learn more about the writing process in detail over the next several chapters.



  • “Overview of the Writing Process,” created by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu and licensed under CC BY NC SA 3.0.


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Overview of the Writing Process Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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