Writing as a Process

Let’s start with a definition of writing. Complete the sentence: Writing is _______.

How many of you have written it down that writing is a process? Probably not many. Why? If you are familiar with the TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, or any other English language tests, you will not think writing is an iterative process, meaning that different parts of it are done and redone until they are high quality in a process. In those exams, you have to compose an essay within 30 or so minutes, which means you do not have the time to edit your paper. You may not even have the time to reread your writing after you drafted it. However, when you are in a college in the U.S., you will relearn what writing is. Most universities in the U.S. uphold that writing is a process, a series of writing steps that you need to be engaged in to reach a final writing product. The series of steps include brainstorming, drafting, receiving feedback, revision, editing, and reflection. How many of the steps are you familiar with?

Stressing the writing process is important because no matter which type of writing, going through a certain series of writing steps is helpful to enhance your writing skills; and it also guarantees writing quality. Particularly, through different steps, different layers of errors or problems will emerge, which gives you an extra chance to revise your writing. For example, during the process of receiving feedback, you can ask more experienced peers or professors to read your writing and give you feedback. International students from other countries with different writing conventions easily overlook written discourse in a specific field in the U.S.; therefore, having more experienced writers read their writing is beneficial. Giving feedback on others’ papers is also a learning process, through which you can review the content and reflect upon your own writing.

Although writing as a process is widely accepted in the U.S., not all steps are needed for each time when you write. It depends on the type of writing and the purposes of your writing. If you have never practiced writing as a process when you are in your home country, this will be a new learning experience for you. More importantly, you need to form your own writing habit that works the best for you. To begin with, your responsibility is to practice those practices and develop the skills in each step for your own benefits. Only when you internalize your own writing process or habit which works for you, you could probably utilize the skill in your future writing assignments, and more likely that you would adapt that process to new contexts.

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