The Writing Process How can students improve their writing?

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." ― Winston S. Churchill

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”― Louis L'Amour


Writing is an important aspect of our society and has played a significant role throughout history. Before writing and the documentation of stories and ideas, oral tradition was the main way to pass down information to subsequent generations. Throughout this chapter, the writing process will be laid out and explained in a way that will benefit students and help them become more effective writers. Styles of writing are a means for authors to express themselves through different lenses. Writing is a popular topic to teach in schools because preparing students for the post education world is the focus of education. Reading and writing go hand in hand and this chapter highlights ways for students to solidify their writing styles through many different activities and strategies. This chapter will examine techniques and activities to improve writing skills and grow as an overall writer.

Lesson 1: The History and Importance of Writing

  • What is writing?
  • Why is writing important, especially in higher levels of education?
  • How can writing be used as an effective tool to communicate thoughts and ideas?
  • When did writing come about and was it always the most important way to convey information?
History: When and where was writing initially developed?

Writing, the physical representation of the spoken language, is a means of communication first developed by humans around 35,000 BC in the form of cave paintings that told a story of the daily life of people during that time. "Written language, however, does not emerge until its invention in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, c. 3500 -3000 BCE. This early writing was called cuneiform and consisted of making specific marks in wet clay with a reed implement" (Mark, 2011). The Sumerians were the first group of people who invented writing as a means of long-distance communication. This facilitated the world of trade and made it easier to import and export goods and services. With cities rising in Mesopotamia, the need for resources which were lacking in the region increased. Because long-distance trade developed, the need to be able to communicate between cities or regions became prominent and necessary for successful survival and expansion (Mark, 2011).

The Importance of Writing: Why should we be concerned?
  • Writing is critical to becoming a good reader. Reading and writing go hand in hand and being good at one leads to success in the other.
  • Writing encourages creativity and exploration among people because it provokes imagination, problem solving, and storytelling. Being able to convey messages in a clear and distinct way is a skill that can only be developed through writing.
  • Writing is an essential job skill. Employers search specifically for articulate applicants and employees to represent their company.
  • Writing is the primary basis upon which one's learning and intellect will be judged. It is essential in college, in the work place, and in the overall academic community.
  • Writing is the key to communication and critical thinking skills. Without writing, the human race is reduced to their simplest form of animals. The ability to possess the intellectual capability to think and communicate with others is what separates human beings from other species that inhabit the earth.
  • Writing increases our ability to understand ourselves and the way we interact with the world. Students can make sense of their own experiences and make discoveries about the thoughts and feelings that lie within them.

Lesson 2: The Writing Process

  • What is the writing process?
  • How is this process beneficial to students?
  • Why use the writing process in the first place?
  • How can writing improve by using this structure?

The writing process is a structure used in order to organize and plan thoughts and ideas. It is a series of steps that guide a writer through their progress of the specific piece that they are working on. It is a natural process that writers engage in, but needs to be explicitly taught to and practiced by students. Ultimately, the focus is placed on the overall operation of writing, not just the finished product, creating more thoughtful students and writers. Each person has their own procedure that guide their writing styles and the writing process helps direct these writers in a certain direction so they can be able to concretely communicate their opinions.

Step 1: Prewriting

During this step, students organize and explore ideas. They begin to brainstorm ideas and initially put them down into writing. Do not be overwhelmed by the blank page that is sitting in front of you. These strategies will assist with the beginning of the process to get the ball rolling. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Using one's own imagination will be a source to find information that lies within you.

Prewriting Activities and Strategies

Outline: This consists of planning out the basic structure and format of the essay by incorporating the main ideas and initial details that will be expanded on throughout the paper. Planning is important because it allows a set structure that can always be amended to fit the specific argument that you are trying to convey.

Charts/Graphic Organizers: Useful tools to organize thoughts into a visual display that demonstrates relationships between concepts and ideas.

Quick Writing/Free Writing: Rapidly writing down ideas about a topic allows a person's mind to think and write freely without any restrictions. Let the ideas flow because the more you write the better and easier it will be. You can always delete material but some people struggle with transferring the words onto paper to this can be a useful strategy.

Step 2: Drafting

This is where students will prepare a preliminary version of their assignment. During this step, it is important to keep writing and not worry about if the text is properly edited. The most important aspect to keep in mind is to get as much down on the page as possible. Students will return to the text during the next step of the writing process

Step 3: Revising

During this step, students will take time to examine word choice and order, organization of their paper, content, and writing style. This is a time consuming process and involves thinking critically about the ideas they are trying to convey to the audience. Revision is the stage in the writing process where the author reviews, alters, and amends his or her message, in accordance to what has been written in the draft. Drafting and revising often form a loop as the work moves back and forth between the two stages.

Step 4: Editing

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are certain mechanics and conventions of the language. Editing involves carefully looking at each sentence and making sure that it is well designed and serves its specific purpose. Proofing is the final stage of the writing process before moving onto the publication stage when the work is ready to be submitted.

Step 5: Publishing

The author can finally celebrate the finished product of writing. This displays the student's writing with purpose and a sense of accomplishment. Congratulations, you have worked diligently on your assignment and can now celebrate its completion and the hard work that went into all of these steps throughout the process.

The video below talks about and explains the writing process and the steps that it is comprised of. It goes into details about the components of each step and the different strategies and techniques used to be able to migrate along the process.

Many schools and universities around the country have developed and are continuing to develop a Writing Center in order to assist students with their writing. They have been established to guide students along this process and offer support for their ideas.

Saint Joseph's University's writing center began twenty years ago during the 1990s and have been working actively to provide aid for their students. They serve the university community and are dedicated to helping students and faculty succeed along the writing process. One of their main focus lies on becoming an autonomous writer. Autonomy means possessing self-government and self-awareness in all aspects of life. St. Joe's aims to hone in on this ability and develop it in terms of writing. In order to become effective writers, students should be able to completely own their piece of writing that they are working on. Understanding what you are trying to say and being able to revise your writing until it gets where it needs to be is an important factor to growing as a writer.

"The Writing Center offers free assistance to writers in the Saint Joseph’s community, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our goal is to meet writers where they are in their writing journey, wherever they are, and to help them where they want to go, wherever that may be. We are big-picture people, more focused on that journey than on a single writing moment, though we take seriously those moments, those papers and poems and Powerpoint presentations and personal statements, with which writers entrust us along the way" (SJU Writing Center).

"The Saint Joseph's University Writing Center staff recognizes that writing is a life-long adventure, unique to each writer, including those who are learning to write in two or more languages, who face physical disabilities or learning challenges, who are plagued by perfectionism, malaise, frustrations, anxieties, and/or pressures that may be invisible to others. We welcome all, and we are committed to diversity and inclusion" (SJU Writing Center).

Lesson 3: Types of Writing Styles

A writer’s style is a clear reflection and display of his or her own personality and thought process. Through writing in one of these specific styles, the writer has the opportunity to effectively utilize language, voice, and the desired tone in order to affect the reader in a certain way and express themselves. The author's writing style is a way for them to approach the audience and convey the specific message they intend.

  • What are the different styles of writing?
  • How can studying these styles help students improve their own writing?
  • What type of style(s) appeals to you?

The video below explicitly defines and provides examples of the four different styles of writing. Throughout this video pay attention to the examples used and try to recall a piece that you have written in the past that fits into one of the categories. *This video uses the term Informative as a synonym for Expository.*


The main purpose of this style is to relay information to the audience without precisely voicing their own personal opinions. This is one of the most common forms of writing and focuses on a specific subject or topic. Expository writing is used when explaining something in a process, is often equipped with facts and figures, and is usually in a logical order or sequence. Examples of expository writing include: textbook writing, recipe guides, business or scientific writing, and how-to articles.


The goal of the author when he or she is writing using the persuasive style is to try to get the audience to think and feel as the author does. This focuses heavily on justifications and reasons that will lead the audience to adhere to a certain opinion. Examples of persuasive writing include: Advertisements, Reviews of books, music, movies, or restaurants, or Letters of recommendation or complaint.


Descriptive writing's main purpose is to illustrate something in particular to the audience. It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, event, or a place, or idea in great detail. The goal is to paint a vivid picture in one's mind using details and imagery. Utilizing and describing the five senses with strong adjectives is a valuable tool to successfully accomplish the overall goal. Examples of this style include poetry, journals, and fiction writing.


This style involves telling a story, fiction or nonfiction. The author will write a story containing characters and explain what happens to these characters throughout the piece. The main component os narrative writing is plot. A plot is how the main events of a story unfold and therefore Novels, short stories, poetry, and biographies all have the possibility to fall into the narrative writing style.

(Meer, 2016)

For further explanation on the styles of writing and their purposes please visit this link.

Lesson 4: Activities for Developing Writing Skills

  • What are some useful activities that writers use to develop their skills?
  • Why is it important to develop the writing ability of students?
  • Why is it important to be able to successfully write? What benefits can come of it?

This video describes some effective activities that students can use to their advantage in order to improve their writing skills.

Tools and Activities to Improve Student Writing
  1. Journals/Writing Notebooks- This is a space where students can record their thoughts, observations, and feelings of themselves and the world around them. Free writing is effective because it allows students to put ideas down on the page in no random order. They do not have to be concerned about what other people will think of it or what kind of grade they will receive. This idea of writing on a daily basis emphasizes the adage Practice Makes Perfect and provides a space to carry out this saying.
  2. Word Wall- Usually displayed in a classroom setting by the teacher, this list of important vocabulary words is visually present to the students and people around it in order to gradually familiarize them with different words in the English language that can be used in writing. Creating a wall that is visually inviting is the most effective way to maximize its use and potential.
  3. Workshopping- This is a peer review strategy and provides a chance for your work to be read and critiqued by other students. Through this process, students receive positive and negative feedback on what works in their writing. They are also exposed to many other different pieces of writing and it is beneficial to read other's works to get a sense of where you stand in the class.
  1. Writing
  2. Style
  3. Expository
  4. Descriptive
  5. Persuasive
  6. Narrative
  7. The Writing Process
  8. Prewriting
  9. Drafting
  10. Revision
  11. Editing
  12. Publishing

Boyd, N. 2003-2017. Activities for Developing Writing Skills. Retrieved from

Mark, J. 2011. Writing. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Meer, H. 2016. Four Different Types of Writing Styles: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative. Retrieved from

Created By
John Luciano


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