Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing In Process

Writing in its broad sense as distinct from simply putting words on paper has three steps : thinking about it, doing it, and doing it again (and again and again, as often as time will allow and patience will endure). The first step, "thinking," involves choosing a subject, exploring ways of developing it, and devising strategies of organization and style. The second step, "doing," is usually called "drafting" and the third, "doing again," is "revising." The next several chapters take a brief look at these steps of writing process.

First a warning. They are not really "steps," not in usual sense anyway. You don't write by :
1. Doing all your thinking
2. Finishing a draft
3. Completing a revision
Actually you do all these things at once.

If what sounds mysterious, it's because writing is a complex activity. As you think about a topic you are already beginning to select words and construct sentences in other words, to draft. As you draft and as you revise, the thinking goes on : you discover new ideas, realize you've gone down a dead end, discover an implication you had not seen before.  

It's helpful to conceive of writing as a process having, in a broad and loose sense, three steps. But remember that you don't move from step to step in smooth and steady progress. You go back and forth. As you work on a composition you will be, at any given point, concentrating on one phase of writing. But always you are engaged with the process in its entirety.

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