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10.1: More on the Writing Process

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    Everyone has a writing process.\(^{74}\) And writing, like anything, takes time. But for quite a while—much too long—writers have increasingly embraced a specific and drawn out model for the writing process, which generally refers to five sure-fire steps: prewriting, drafting, editing, revising, and eventually—if one can muster the endurance to get through each of those earlier stages—publishing. As we have increasingly valued this writing process, we have moved further away from valuing writing itself as a wonderful, finished thing that humans can produce, that is, actually get done.

    In other words, we have so fetishized the creative process that we’ve forgotten what we can actually create: words strung out into beautiful constellations. The obsession with the writing process rather than seeing writing as a completed product is an increasingly problematic psychological perspective as we increase the speed of production in the 21st century. Beleaguered revision has become the norm. When any view becomes that dominant, it is important to consider revising it. I am worried that we are taking too much time to write. And time is our most important non-renewable resource.

    Meanwhile, well-meaning teachers all over still have colorful little posters up in their rooms with those classic five steps borrowed from some fairly dated views on what writing involves. We often do the various steps of the writing process while we write, of course—just not necessarily in the prescriptive order outlined by this slightly archaic structure. Writing is more complex than a five-step program.

    For instance,\(^{75}\) one can approach the writing process as a sequence of steps that should follow a strict order: Have and refine an idea, conduct all the research, write a complete draft from the beginning to the end, revise the draft, edit it, and let it go. The writer completes each step in the process before moving on to the next. (Writing assignments in school are commonly structured this way.) This linear approach to the writing process is a useful technique that works under many circumstances. But it’s not the only way to approach the writing process, and it doesn’t work especially well for some tasks. Still, for many writers, it has calcified into a hard and fast rule. This good option becomes the only option.

    But good options may not work under every circumstance. Thus, when writers treat options as rules, writing can actually become more frustrating because the writer insists on abiding by the rule, whether it works or not. For example, that linear model of the writing process can be very effective—it might work for a writer for virtually every email, report, and research project she writes, year after year. Until it doesn’t.

    \(^{74}\)Snippet from = Butts, Jimmy. “The More Writing Process, The Better.” Bad Ideas About Writing. Edited by Cheryl E. Ball and Drew M. Loewe. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Libraries, Digital Publishing Institute, 2017. CC-BY.

    \(^{75}\)Snippet from = Dufour, Monique and Jennifer Ahern-Dodson. “Good Writers Always Follow My Rules.” Bad Ideas About Writing. Edited by Cheryl E. Ball and Drew M. Loewe. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Libraries, Digital Publishing Institute, 2017. CC-BY.

    This page titled 10.1: More on the Writing Process is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.