When writing, focus on your process

In writing on September 17, 2008 at 2:35 am
Photo by Filipe Ferreira (thank you!)

Photo by Filipe Ferreira (thank you!)

When working on a paper, focus on the process of writing more than the product of the paper.

When  making a cake, you follow a process. You mix together all the ingredients, pour the mixture into a pan, preheat the oven, and put the cake in the oven to bake. Imagine trying to bake a cake all at once, in one step. You’d have to mix the batter and pour it into the pan, all while it’s in the oven baking. It would be a disaster. The cake wouldn’t turn out at all as you’d planned. You’d probably be sick from the oven fumes, and I bet there would be cake batter all over the inside of the oven. Something similar happens when you try to write a paper all at once, without leaving time for different steps. Inevitably, something will not be done well, and your paper won’t turn out as you wanted.

I really value the process of writing, so I’ll probably talk a lot about it on the blog. In the meantime, here are the basic steps to follow, when writing a paper:

1) Brainstorm ideas and develop your thoughts
2) Research (if you have to include research)
3) Write a first draft
4) Revise (this is the step where you edit your draft for clarity, structure of the paper, and places where you need to develop ideas more)
5) Proofread (correct grammar).

Trying to do all five steps at once will be no fun, and it will hurt your paper. If you break the project into steps, though (and take breaks between each step), writing the paper will be much easier, and the work you turn in will, I’m willing to bet, be better. Try it, and see how it works.


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