Why Writing Process in College?

Writing is like lots of other -ing words: It is both a thing and an activity. Think about skiing, for example. Dictionaries define it as a noun (which means that it’s a thing), usually as a sport. But isn’t it also a verb kind of word? That verb-ness of -ing words pulls the notion of action into the noun.

Where there’s action, there’s usually a process, but the process will look different depending on the activity.

Activity: Describing a Process You Know Well

Pick an -ing that you know how to do well (e.g., singing, juggling, running, playing a sport). Describe the process of doing that activity. What are the steps or stages?

Now think about trying to teach that process to someone else.

  • How would you start a beginner, someone who doesn’t know the activity at all?
  • How would you teach someone who is at an intermediate level—they’ve done the activity before, but only at a basic level?
  • What could you teach someone who is an expert themselves?
  • What could you learn from someone who is an expert?

This text does not presume that you are a beginner at writing. After all, you have probably been writing for most of your life at this point. This would put you at least at the intermediate level. However, if you are reading this book as part of a college writing course, you probably aren’t at the expert level yet. At the very least, you probably don’t have much experience with writing at the college level.

Because you are not a beginner, you probably have strategies that have worked for you in the past, and some of those will continue to work for you in college. Others, however, may not serve you quite so well. For example, pulling an all-nighter (which we’ve all done at one time or another, myself included) will not work for many of the longer and more involved writing assignments you are likely to see in college.

This section of Reading and Writing Successfully is intended to guide you in thinking about your own writing process. While much of the advice here will apply in other venues—including workplace writing—the focus in this section is to help you develop a strong process for your college writing assignments.


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Reading and Writing Successfully in College: A Guide for Students Copyright © 2023 by Patricia Lynne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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