Later on in the conversation


Before you start writing

Posted on October 27, 2012 at 12:10 AM


If you're like me, you learned to write down your thoughts on paper, then go back through once or twice to get all the spelling right. That was that. You turned in your paper, which was (nearly all of it) the same content expressed in your first draft.


Maybe in college you tinkered with the content of your writing a little more. Maybe you didn't.



In the 90s (it may so be yet today), elementary ed. teachers were teaching writing as a process. Here is the beginning of that process: pre-writing.




Some people suggest 70% (I've even read someone saying 85%) of your time should be taken up by pre-writing.




You're not going to win NoNoWriteGo at that rate. But a certain quality of thought should show if you move more toward process writing.




Start by choosing a topic. What are you going to write about? Maybe a question or two that mean something to you - questions you haven't got answers for, entirely, yet you are invested in them all the same.


There's some good reading on topic here. Don't skip this website because "topic" seems too basic. The short page is more than worth your time.





Next decide the purpose of the piece. Is it to entertain? To enlighten? Persuade? You may have to doodle around a bit to know where you want to go with this.


Now consider your audience. You may write for yourself, or to peers, parents, other authors and so on.


What form best fits your purpose? We almost always use a document these days, but you also might make ABC book(s), brochures, charts, lab reports, or jokes. Any of these can be narrative. I saw a list of canceled checks that were made to tell a story. It was clever and it worked.


Especially consider an alternate form if you're sending the piece to a magazine or journal that takes submissions through snail mail.



The next section is the fun part: Gathering and organizing your ideas.



Pre-writing can be considered a warm up. You stretch your mind-muscles by reading, or do a quick write (dash off a couple / three pages written at breakneck speed). Make bubble diagrams, or web diagrams (sometimes called "clustering." This is better than creating an outline, at least at first, because the connections are nonlinear.) You can run your ideas by someone. Role-playing is another possibility. You can draw (especially if young children are moving through the process writing, but I've found sketching helpful enough to consider doing regularly. Ideas occur to me as I draw that didn't otherwise. Not that I'm a great artist. You don't have to be.)


I suppose this is enough for now. If you'd like more information about pre-writing, there's probably more than you need here.


You might also try this site.


or here.



If you want to learn the next stage of process writing, you might start with this site.




The bulk of this post comes from the language arts book listed below.






Tompkins, Gail E. and Kenneth Hoskisson. (1995). Language Arts Content and Teaching Strategies. Prentice-Hall, Inc. United States of America.



Categories: writing

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