2 The Writing Process

by travelpod member hi my name is Debra Hayes and I'm from the Air Force Research Institute at err University welcome to our video series academic writing for airman now in the previous session I defined the academic essay and I talked about some characteristics that all good academic essays conform to one of the things that I stressed in the previous video is that critical thinking and research and writing are really all interrelated parts of the same process that is producing an essay so it's not as if you go to the library one day and complete all your research on the topic and then you sit down and do all your critical thinking about the topic and then you sit down in front of Microsoft Word and produce a perfectly formed 20-page essay rather you'll be engaged in all three of these activities at the same time usually over a period of several days or even several weeks so in this session I want to talk about the process that you go through as you write now I'll be talking about the writing process but what I really mean is a critical thinking and a research and a writing process now experienced writers develop a writing process that works for them but all good writers cycle through a process that looks more or less like this step one analyzing the assignment step two planning the essay and developing your ideas step three writing multiple drafts of the essay for revising the essay five editing and proofreading the essay and six publishing submitting for a grade or maybe submitting for actual publication so I hope you can see right off the bat that producing an essay doesn't mean sitting down one or two days before it's due and cranking it out there really this process takes time and there really aren't any shortcuts if you want to produce a good polished essay so let's look at what happens in each stage now this is an overview of the writing process so for each of these steps will have future videos that cover the topics in much greater detail as soon as you get a writing assignment you need to spend some time analyzing the assignment to determine what's required do this on paper so that you'll have notes refer back to of course you have to identify the topic about which you'll write but you also need to identify the purpose for what you're writing what is your final product supposed to accomplish you need to identify who your intended audience is this will affect a number of decisions you make as you write of course when you're a student your immediate audience is your professor but think beyond that immediate audience to who would be interested in or have a need for your essay you should begin determining what research will be required and where it will come from and finally what parameters do you have to work within do you have a page requirement how long will you have to complete the assignment now after you've answered some basic questions about your writing tasks you need to spend some time planning your essay this should resonate with you as military members you would never launch a military operation that hadn't been planned and writing an essay is your operation and so you need to invest some time upfront planning it one of the most important components of your essay will be your thesis simply put the thesis is the main idea of your essay the thesis is the argument that your essay supports if you don't have a good thesis you won't have a good essay so we'll devote a video to developing a thesis and if you don't want any of the others I would definitely recommend that you watch that one you should always establish at least two preliminary thesis early in the planning process for your essay of course you'll also need to do a lot of research as you plan your essay to determine what goes into it what evidence you'll use to develop and support your argument once you've established your thesis you should begin developing an outline which will grow if you do more research outlining is really important in producing a well-organized and a thorough essay it's like a map that shows you where to go if you're right if you build your outline you'll need to make some decisions about what organization patterns to follow how to order the paragraph also think about this how will you use document design to communicate for example will tables or illustrations or maybe maps be useful in supporting your argument now notice that I call this phase right drafts in the plural for most writing assignments especially longer ones you really should expect to produce multiple drafts writing is messy and most good writers don't produce a well-written perfectly formed essay the first time around this is the stage where a lot of blood sweat and tears get expended in the writing process in future videos I'll give you some strategies that I hope will make this part of the process less daunting one important strategy is to separate writing your draft from revising your goal initially is just to get your ideas down on paper or in digits and then if you plan well and you manage your time well you'll have time to revise and edit your work after you produce the first draft or even the second draft now what is distinguish between revision and editing revision really is a revision II or a receipt of your writing revision focuses on the content and the quality of your ideas the development of your essay not just correcting errors all good writers expect to engage in a significant amount of revision after they pre produced a first draft so revising your draft doesn't mean that you failed rather it's a tool that you use to succeed as a writer again when you create a timeline for completing your writing assignments you must plan to have a first draft and even a second draft completed and plenty of time to give you time to revise now many people have the mistaken idea that good writing is all about the things you see listed here using correct grammar putting your commas in the right place and things like that and those things are very important for producing polished writing and for communicating clearly but you can be perfect in these areas and still produce a bad essay that doesn't make an argument and doesn't really develop your ideas so now your content first then when you have written a couple of drafts and revise your ideas and your essay is pretty close to its finished form then you want to do some good hard proofreading and editing but don't waste your time doing this until you nailed your content otherwise you may end up you know may spend time polishing a paragraph that eventually gets deleted or significantly rewritten and then only after you've given careful attention and a lot of time the previous phases will you be ready to publish your essay or submit it for a grade well I've given you a rather neat looking and linear process that may seem to suggest that writing is very methodical a very organized process but for most of us writing looks a lot more like this for most of us writing is pretty messy in the reality is that when you're revising your draft you may realize that it doesn't really accomplish the purpose of the assignment so you're all the way back in the analysis stage so you're continually cycling among these all of these stages which is fine now you'll notice that I didn't put Reverse arrows from the editing stage going backwards and again that's because I recommend that you delay scrubbing the paper for grammar and spelling and things like that until all the substantial revisions are made well thank you for joining me today in future videos we'll talk about the beginning of the writing process and talk about how you go through each of the phases we would love to hear from you please use the email address on the screen to tell us how these videos are helping you to suggest improvements or request additional writing topics thank you and we'll see you next time

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