Writing Process

The writing process consists of 5 steps:

  •   Planning
  •   Drafting
  •   Revising
  •   Formatting
  •   Proof Reading

The amount of time devoted to each step depends on the type of document to be generated, that is, its length, complexity and requirement. Writers generally adapt the various steps of the writing process to suit their writing style and needs.

Writing_process

Planning

It is the first step in the writing process. Planning the message involves the following components:

  • Knowing the purpose of message
  • Knowing the audience
  • Determining the contents of message
  • Gathering and collecting information
  • Organization of the message

Begin the writing process by determining the purpose of the message, that is, whether the message is meant to give information to persuade, request, or instruct the reader. Try and determine the purpose as specifically as possible. Knowing the purpose of the message helps the writer in determining what his writing style would be.

The next step of planning the writing is to analyze the audience, that is, to determine who will be reading the message, what is one’s relationship with the audience and how is the audience expected to react to the message. The content, organization and tone of the message depend upon these factor.

The tone of the message, that is, the degree of formality of the message is affected by the relative status of the reader and the writer. The content will be influenced by the knowledge of the audience, the interest of the audience and the demographic characteristics of the audience.

The next step is to determine the content, that is, what goes into the message. Based on the purpose and the analysis of the audience, determine what should be the content of the message. Avoid including irrelevant information that wastes the time of the reader. At the same time, do not leave out information which may be vital to the communication. Scot Ober has suggested two techniques to determine what should go into the content of the message.

(i) Brain Storming: One useful strategy is brain storming, which involves jotting down ideas, possible leads, and anything else you think might be helpful in constructing your message. Aim for quantity not quality. Do not evaluate your output unless you hove run out of ideas. Then begin to refine, delete, combine and otherwise revise your ideas to form the basis of your message.

(ii) Mind Mopping: Another possible strategy is mind mopping (also called clustering), a process that avoids the step-by-step limitation of lists. Instead, write the purpose of your message in the middle of the page and circle it. Then as you think of possible points to add, write them down and link them by a line ether to the main purpose or to another point. As you think of other details, add them where you think they might fit. The visual outline offers flexibility and encourages free thinking.

Once you plan the content, gather all the information that you will need to facilitate your writing. The various sources include reports, past correspondence, journals, newspapers and sales reports.

The final step in the planning process is the organization of the message, that is, deciding what goes where in the message Use the direct approach, which involves presenting the major idea first followed by supporting details for routine and good news messages. For persuasive and bad news messages and messages in which you anticipate a negative reaction use an indirect approach. Here, you first prepare the reader to receive the message and then convey the message. The supporting ideas are presented first followed by the main idea.

Drafting

Once you have the information and a plan to organize the information, start writing. Compose the first version of the message. In the first draft, do not pay much attention to the style or format of the message. Concentrate more on the content part of the message. Just put your ideas in written form on the paper. Remember that it is not possible to have a perfect message in the first draft itself. Leave it for the next stage of the writing process.

Revising

Once the draft is ready, revise the writing You may need two or more revisions to get the writing in the shape you intend it to be. Revise the writing for content, style and correctness. You can revise the writing based on the principles of effective writing.

Make sure that you have included all the relevant information. The writing should have an impressive style and should be effective. At the same time, it should be accurate, that is, free from grammatical and content-related errors.

Formatting

The presentation of the written message in an impressive layout with an appealing appearance is essential. Some documents need to follow a standard format. Formatting helps the reader to find certain information in a particular position. It gives a neat and visually appealing look to the document.

Proof Reading

This is the final step in the writing step. This is the last opportunity the writer has to make any changes to the message before it passes on to the reader. Proof reading ensures the accuracy of the communication. The message must be proofread for content, typographical and format errors.

Content errors may arise if some relevant information is left out or if inconsistent information­ contradictory or factually incorrect information-is presented. Most of the content errors are taken care of in the revising stage.

Typographical errors include spelling and punctuation mistakes, a word, a line or a complete paragraph being missed out while typing, duplication of words or typing figures or words incorrectly from the manuscript. Using the spell check function available in most word processing software’s helps identify many of these errors.

Formatting errors relate to inappropriate font size, font, heading subheading, position, numbering of sections and subsections, and so on.

Photo by: Marie Kelleher
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