My writing process can be somewhat arduous. For papers, I always try to write multiple drafts. I strongly prefer to work on an assignment over multiple days, as opposed to writing everything at-the-last-minute, since I see great value in being able to step away from and later revisit my work.
Ideally, my first step when completing a writing assignment is to read the source material in-depth, and begin to think of ideas, which I will jot down as a type of informal “outline”. As I read, I will indicate important ideas, features, or quotes on the source material itself, or type things when I see them on my computer. When I gather quotes, I tend to organize them into sublists by theme, and I primarily look for quotations dealing with the themes I am most interested in.
After selecting some quotes, I will then begin to do some analysis on them. I like to see which quotes would lead my assignment in an interesting direction. Alternatively, I may decide on a specific theme (or themes) that I would like to address in my paper, and subsequently gather evidence based on them.
Once I have gained a thorough understanding of the material I am using for my writing assignment, I will then begin to come up with ideas for a thesis (and eventually write my thesis statement). I then like to draft up a more formal outline, where I will have some bullet point notes on what I would like to accomplish in a given paragraph (or section of my paper). If I’m writing a five paragraph essay, I will give each section of my paper a heading. When I’m gathering evidence and organizing my outline, I sometimes realize that I have too much content. If this is the case, I will start to decide on what I should eliminate. I may do some free writing on some of evidence I have picked out, and then decide what I would like to keep. I am a big fan of using “Save As” for essays, so I will often use this function, and sometimes I will go back to previous versions of my assignment and takes things from them (as well as writing new content).After I have finished this preparatory work, I kind of begin to turn everything I have written (that I like) into my essay. If I have new ideas while I’m writing, I may choose to go with them instead of things I previously drafted.
Once I have finished my essay (or any given writing assignment), I ALWAYS proofread and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Also, I often like to print out my work when I revise it and mark it up with a pen (sometimes I will handwrite parts of my paper, then subsequently type them up).
Although I described a detailed outline process above, however, I actually often prefer to begin writing assignments by doing free writing, instead of creating a disciplined outline from the beginning. This is the case especially when I have been given a lot of time to complete my assignment. Something I could potentially improve with my writing is the speed with which I complete my writing assignments. Additionally, I feel that I could strongly benefit from finding balance between my free writing-centric approach to writing and one that employs effective outlining.
My problems with writing are that I can sometimes be too much of a perfectionist, and that it can be time-consuming. When I struggle to get words on the page, I feel that my writer’s block may come from holding myself to too high a standard for my writing. While I always take my work seriously, I have come to realize that I should be more relaxed while I write (especially during the initial stages of my writing process), and this has greatly helped me speed up my writing process.
Additionally, although I feel that I’m a strong writer, I know that writing can sometimes be something that takes me a lot of time to complete (depending on the assignment). Therefore, I see effective time management as fundamentally important in terms of my writing process.