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The Writing Process

Planning, Drafting, and Revising

What inspires you to write?

Click link:

Beau Sia, Georgia Me, and Suheir Hammad “First Taste.” Def Poetry Jam Season 4, Episode 10 (2005).

This presentation outlines what Composition/Writing Studies research has discovered about teaching and learning writing effectively.

Over 40 years of research has shown some clear evidence of a “process”-based pedagogy, which means writing teachers should work with students to help them develop and strengthen their writing practice through planning (or pre-writing), drafting, and revising.

Here’s an analogy that helps clarify my approach to this course:

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A common misconception about writing in our society is that writing well requires some sort of “natural” ability. While there are some people who do seem to have some talent for writing, these folks still need to *work at it* like all of us. Writing well is simply a matter of planning well and lots of rewriting/revising.

This is our approach in this class: everyone can become a proficient or even thriving writer through regular practice, individualized feedback, and focused revision.

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Imagine you are on a sports team, let’s say Track & Field, and you are a sprinter. If you knew you wanted to win Saturday’s big Meet, what would your coach recommend to prepare you?

PRACTICE!

You couldn’t say to the coach “Oh I’m busy, I’ll just do all of my practice the night before.” You *know* that you practice every day because you are trying to build muscle memory- that you will practice so much that you know how to perform well without having to think about it-you just keep practicing until it feels “natural” to you.

This same principle can be applied to writing.

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While you are practicing, your team mates, coach, and anyone around who has an opinion (LOL) will give you feedback on your performance; you consider this advice, then make changes to your style and techniques that seem helpful to improve your “game.”

This kind of individualized feedback will hopefully help you improve your performance at the next Track Meet, and you keep practicing!

Same with writing- you practice by writing drafts, then soliciting feedback from knowledgeable peers. Eventually (but not always, especially on earlier drafts), I will provide feedback as well. You will write several drafts, refining your writing.

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Let’s say you finally get to “the Big Meet” and compete in the races you have been practicing so hard for. Let’s say you do really well in most of your races, but don’t do very well in, say, the Team Relay. Though you have improved your time and technique in some areas, you know you still need to practice in others. This is “revision,” just like with writing.

So you keep practicing.

In our writing class, you will keep practicing, too. even though you may not earn the “A” you want on a particular assignment, you keep working to improve for the assignment.

This is the overall philosophy and structure of this class- I am evaluating your process- where you have started from, what improvements you’ve made during our course, and how you plan to apply what you’ve learned in future writing assignments.

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With all this said, now to our first project:

The first assignment is a Writing Process Analysis, which asks you to reflect, narrate, describe, analyse, explain, quote, cite, apply, discuss, and plan for the future when it comes to your writing process and style. Begin by asking yourself: what has been my writing process so far? How do I plan to strengthen or improve my writing?

This first week, we engage in prewriting- reading advice from professional writers, brainstorming ideas, researching more advice, freewriting and discussing what we’ve found. It’s not even time to draft yet- it’s just planning time.

If you haven’t already read some advice from professional writers posted to Blackboard, do so now. Make sure to read Elbow’s “Freewriting” and Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” first, then skim the other readings available and focus on a few that seem to speak to you.

Writing Process Analysis Assignment

(this is just an outline- the actual assignment is located under “Assignments” in Blackboard)

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A fan asks Ava Duvernay about feeling like their writing is terrible, and she answers in way that helps outline the guiding principle for this course.

(need to”View presentation” in order to read the screenshot)

Advice from professional writers on writing process:

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Writing Process

Neil Gaiman on Writing on the Nerdist podcast

https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/tips-masters/jack-kerouac-30-cool-tips

What are the 3 steps of the writing process?

Prewriting: generating ideas and developing an essay plan

Drafting: Composing a rough draft

Revising: Editing and proofreading to produce the final draft

What is Planning /prewriting?

Prewriting is a stage in the writing process that is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important stages. This is the time before you actually begin your writing task- this is time for generating and organizing your ideas and making decisions about how to execute your writing project.

Do you often have trouble “getting started”? Prewriting helps writers generate, clarify, and organize ideas.

Prewriting can help you see your topic more clearly, help you practice writing, keep track of your ideas, and help you get started. We will begin all of our projects in this class with prewriting.

Do not criticize yourself and do not revise or scratch anything out during the planning/pre-writing phase- this is just “idea time” and space for you to practice bridging the gap from the swirling ideas in your head to making them come alive on the page.

Why Prewrite?

Invention of ideas

Writing is PRACTICE.

To help with “getting started”

Writing is a process.

Writing is thinking.

Why do writers procrastinate?

Read “Laziness Doesn’t Exist: Getting to the Root Causes of Procrastination.” (click link)

What are the 2 types of Prewriting Strategies?

Generative prewriting helps writers generate and clarify ideas- we will examine this first

Organizational prewriting helps writer organize those ideas

from Goldberg, from Writing Down the Bones

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What are some generative prewriting strategies?

Brainstorming

Freewriting

Looping

Reading Response

Journalistic Questions

Drawing/ Visualizing

Discussion

Brainstorming

Set a timer and commit to writing for the full amount of time

Make a list of every idea you can think of that relates to your topic- you don’t even need complete sentences yet

Don’t worry about grammar

Don’t stop writing. Don’t erase anything or try to “correct” your writing

Don’t over think it or worry– channel your worry into just getting words on the page

Check out these suggestions at the Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://urban.illinois.edu/images/site-content/resources/writing/the-writing-process-how-to-brainstorm.pdf

Freewriting

Set a timer and commit to writing for the full amount of time

Generate and write out all ideas you can think of, work to explain or describe in as much detail as you can-try to write out full sentences, but don’t stress if you are not “there” yet

Even if it doesn’t seem to relate, write it down

Keep your hand moving—don’t stop writing—don’t pause to re-read what you just wrote. Don’t erase anything or try to “correct” your writing.

Don’t worry about grammar

If you feel anxiety, just keep writing

Don’t overthink it or worry– channel your anxiety into just getting words on the page

See Peter Elbow, “Freewriting” under “Writing Advice”

Journalistic Questions:

Use these questions to help you describe your writing topic and generate ideas:

Who is involved?

What happens/happened?

Where does/did it happen?

When does/did it happen?

Why does/did it happen?

How does/did it happen?

WOW! or “So What?”

Reading Response

Often, the writing we do involves citing and analyzing other texts.

Pick out a quote that strikes you as interesting, shocking, controversial, or confirms your experience.

Write the quote out as accurately as possible, and include the page number so you can find it easily again.

FIRST write what you believe the author is arguing in your own words. It is important to explain your interpretation of the author’s intention.

SECOND respond to the author’s argument intelligently. Write about why you agree or disagree. Write about any evidence you know of that either supports the author’s assertions or refutes them.

Repeat the process.

Drawing/Visualizing

Draw a picture of your essay topic

You can draw a scene, a cartoon, charts, graphs, or a storyboard

Look back at your drawing and write out what ideas you just visually represented

Discussion

Talk over your ideas with a classmate, a tutor, or a friend/family member

Ask questions

Take notes as your conversation helps you generate ideas

So now we practice pre-writing. Log into your CSUSB email account and go to Google Drive in the upper right-hand corner, create a new document and name it “Prewriting YOUR LAST NAME” (example: “Prewriting Asbell”)

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To Begin:

Read through the rest of this presentation, make sure you have the advice from professional writers handy, then return back to this slide.

Use a timer, but always remember you should keep writing if the timer goes off and you have more to say.

For slide 27 (the next slide), spend about 3-5 minutes freewriting on each question.

REMEMBER: Prewriting is just PRACTICE. Let loose a little just write.

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*Practicing Prewriting:

Self-Assessment Freewriting: Be Honest!

How are you feeling right now? What’s going on with you?

What kinds of writing do you do?

What is your writing process? Any special rituals or needs when you write?

What is the most successful you have been with writing? What did you do to ensure your success?

What do you like about writing?

What do you dislike about writing?

Have you had a painful experience with writing?

How do you come up with your ideas for writing? How do you decide what to write?

How do you revise and proofread your work?

What are your strengths and weaknesses with writing?

*Practicing Prewriting:

Freewriting: Exploring the advice that is meaningful to your process (from “Writing Advice” on Blackboard)

Select the most meaningful advice you have read so far. Set a timer for 5 minutes and freewrite, explaining what the advice is and why you found it meaningful. If your timer goes off and you have more to say, feel free to reset the timer and keep going.

Select another piece of advice and repeat.

Repeat for at least 5 pieces of advice (7 total). Feel free to freewrite or try other kinds of prewriting (Reading Response, Drawing, Journalistic Questions).

All of this prewriting what you are turning in first-you are not writing an essay yet, so don’t worry about form– just get some words down.

What are the 2 types of Prewriting Strategies?

Generative prewriting helps writers generate and clarify ideas

Organizational prewriting helps writer organize those ideas

Organizational prewriting helps writer organize ideas

Some of us are great at organizing, others of us need to work hard at this. I have never had trouble generating ideas, but organizing those ideas into a coherent project has been a learning process for me.

I used to hate those Roman Numeral Formal Outlines, now I realize how useful they can be. I realized I hated outlines because *organizing is hard!*– it can be one of the toughest parts of writing.

But when you practice, you get better. You…

…get to a new level of understanding writing and your writing process! It starts to affect other parts of your writing. For example, I started to get better at writing a focused thesis once I realized how it connected to my organization. I also started writing better Introductions and Conclusions.

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What are some organizational prewriting strategies?

Informal Outline

Formal Outline

Block Outline

Cluster/Concept Map

Flowchart

Paragraph Block

Reverse Outlining (See “Drafting”)

Informal Outline

Friendship: What’s Important to Me

Loyalty: Honesty, trust. We got each others’ backs

Fun: We have similar interests, we think the same activities are fun

Intellectual debate: I like my friends to be smart so we can have philosophical conversations and intellectual debates. Logical, educated reasoning

Perspective: My friends must have open minds, be respectful, progressive thinkers, and intellectually curious.

Social: I like people who are outgoing and make friends easily. I like to laugh and love clever people

Formal Outline

Friendship: What’s Important to Me

Loyalty: Friends I can trust

A. I want friends I can be honest with

1. I had a friend who betrayed my trust

2. I have many friends who I can trust with anything

B. I want friends who have my best interest at heart

1. I have friends who got my back

2. I got their backs too!

II. Fun: Friends who have similar ideas of what is fun

A. I want friends I can go out with

1. Hanging out

2. Going to concerts, going to parties

B. I want friends I can share my interests with

1. Art, music, culture

2. Politics and knowledge

III. Intellectual Debate: Friends who are smart

A. I don’t like hanging out with people who act ignorant or discriminatory

1. I like people who listen and are respectful to other perspectives

2. People who pretend like they’re stupid are boring

B. I love having deep conversations and debates with my friends

1. I like people who can debate an issue intellectually and not get upset just because I don’t agree with them

2. I like people who challenge me to think deeper and question my assumptions

Block Outline

Cluster

Flowchart

Paragraph Block

I love having deep conversations and debates with my friends, and I tend to hang out with people who challenge me to think deeply.

I like people who can debate an issue intellectually and not get upset just because I don’t agree with them

People who think “outside the box” and don’t just parrot what they hear from other people have my ultimate respect.

People who use logical reasoning and provide credible evidence hold more credibility with me.

What are the 3 steps of the writing process?

Prewriting: Generating ideas and developing an essay plan

Drafting: Composing a rough draft

Revising: Editing and proofreading to produce the final draft

What is drafting?

Use your prewriting plan to write your rough draft, but don’t hesitate to make changes to that plan if you need to.

Don’t worry about grammar yet!!! This comes with revision, not as you are writing your first “shitty” draft

Make sure you are writing under good conditions and you have all of the materials you’ll need

Sometimes it feels like if you write complicated sentences with fancy vocabulary, you are writing well.

The opposite is actually true: YOU ARE AIMING FOR CLARITY!

Clear writing is what all readers want, right?

The drafting stage is dependant on what medium and genre you are writing in. For example, a poem has different genre requirements than, say, writing a lab report in Biology class.

The first assignment asks you to analyze and reflect on your writing process, discussing your strengths and weakness and goals for improvement (see Writing Process Analysis Assignment under “Assignments” on Blackboard).

So to draft this, you need to think about what an essay does or “looks like.”

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Essay Genre Requirements

Introduction- What does the reader need to know at the beginning of your essay? How do you “introduce” your subject? What is your point, argument, or thesis?

Body Paragraphs- Discusses each main point with evidence and examples for each. Design each paragraph to clearly support the overall “point” for your paper.

Conclusion- Significance- Who cares? Why is this topic important to consider?

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Reverse Outlining

You can organize and reorganize at any point in the process. I know it sounds scary and labor intensive to re-organize once you’ve put so much work into your draft, but sometimes the best gift you can give yourself is to recognize when something isn’t working and change your plan. To help you organize/re-organize, work to produce an outline of a draft you have already written.

This brings us to…

Reverse Outlining

What are the 3 steps of the writing process?

Prewriting: Generating ideas and developing an essay plan

Drafting: Composing a rough draft

Revising: Revising and proofreading to produce the final draft

Two Steps of Revision

HOCS: Higher Order Concerns -Revision

LOCS: Lower Order Concerns -Proofread

Higher Order Concerns

Re-vision!

Looking at your draft in new ways to help give you ideas about how to revise.

Content, requirements of the assignment

Context (the writing situation, purpose)

Scope (length)

Organization-order of ideas

Development- pattern of elaboration

Coherence- does this make sense?

Use of Evidence-

Audience Expectations-

Genre & Style-

<–Look for “the BIG stuff” first!

Higher Order Concerns

–Use of Evidence- What kind of evidence does this genre require? Have you integrated your evidence well?

–Audience Expectations- Who is the audience for this text? What do they expect or need from this text?

–Genre & Style- Is the writing adhering to effective or expected form?

–What Content must be included? What are the requirements of the assignment?

–What is the Context? What is the writing situation, or purpose of the writing being done?

–What is the Scope? The length or word/page minimums

–Organization- 1. what is the best order to present your ideas? What should you discuss first, second, etc.? 2. How do you “chunk” information into paragraphs?

–Development- how do you move from one idea to another? How do you build off of previous points?

–Coherence- does this all “make sense”? Is the text unified (no tangents or breaks in logic)?

Why Revise for Higher Order Concerns First?

Higher Order Concerns

Have you ever spent a lot of time trying to revise a sentence so it “sounds right” or seems grammatical? And then once you read the sentence, it doesn’t even say what you wanted it to say in the first place?

What about spending a bunch of time on a paragraph, only to realize that the paragraph is a tangent and you need to erase it anyway?

This is why we revise for the “BIG STUFF” first. It saves time and energy and helps you focus on the important aspects of revision.

HOCS Strategy: Glossing

Glossing is a great strategy to revise for higher order concerns (it is, essentially, reverse outlining with focused revision).

Underline the thesis

Read one body paragraph.

In 3-4 words, describe the main idea of that paragraph

Write these words in the margin next to the paragraph

Read each sentence again, crossing out any ideas that don’t belong and indicating where you need more elaboration/explanation

Make sure you make clear connections between the main point of the body paragraph and your thesis

Repeat for each body paragraph

Lower Order Concerns

Conventions of grammar, syntax, mechanics, such as:

Word choice

Sentence structure

Capitalization

Spelling, Typos

Format and documentation

Or “Editing” or “Proofreading.” FINALLY, AT THE END OF OUR PROCESS, we begin to look at sentence level style.

Why Do We Proofread for Lower Order Concerns Last?

Did you know that most research shows that students correct their own grammar and spelling issues as they revise for Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) first? This is because HOCs ask you to organize and clarify your ideas in relation to each other, which helps you figure out what you need to articulate and clarify.

Have you ever realized that an essay can be totally grammatically “correct” but still exhibit lousy writing? An essay can “look” perfect but not meet the requirements of the assignment?

Why Do We Proofread for Lower Order Concerns Last?

Did you know that student usually exhibit *patterns* of error, so these patterns are easily identified and improved upon?

Did you know that overly focusing on grammar can actually inhibit your dynamic and personal writing style?

Did you know that many of your teachers and professors who emphasize grammar “correctness” are often not technically “correct” in their preferences or expectations?

Grammar is important, but not right now. Keep focusing on HOCs while keeping a gentle eye on your sentence structure. More later on this 🙂

Why Do We Proofread for Lower Order Concerns Last?

One last note: because of my extensive training in composition/writing pedagogy, I don’t judge anyone’s *value* or writing talents based on their grammar, vocabulary, or linguistic elements like “accent.”

I have been teaching writing for 15 years. There is no way your grammar is going to shock, anger, or sadden me. I am not interested in “punishing” your grammar mistakes. I don’t make fun of people’s grammar, ever.

I am not here to judge your grammar, I am here to help you develop as a writer. We will work with grammar, but in ways that make sense for strengthening our process.

LOCS Strategy: Read Aloud

I know it’s scary, but reading your work out loud one of the most effective ways to pick up sentence-level issues and revise them!

Pick a partner

Read your essay out loud to him or her, stopping to correct any issues with clarity that you find

-OR-Read your essay out loud and backwards, starting with the last line of the conclusion.

Take turns!

Here’s a quick look at some questions from the Writing Process Analysis Assignment: Self-Assessment and Writing Goals.

How, when, and why do you write? What is your writing process? What do you do very well (strengths), and what do you need to keep working on (weaknesses)?

Compare the advice from the course readings that resonated with you/your writing process. What advice do you plan to put into practice this quarter with your writing? How do you plan to adapt this advice to your needs as a writer? Most importantly, how will taking this advice improve your writing?

What effects could this advice have on your long-term writing goals? What aspects of your process will change or stay the same? What aspects of your writing would you most like feedback on?

This is just a sneak peek. For more information, see the assignment handout under “Assignments” on Blackboard.

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Writing Process Analysis: Self-Assessment and Writing Goals

The ​purpose​ of this essay is to critically reflect on your strengths and weaknesses in writing in order to evaluate your writing process and create a plan for improvement for this course. Your ​audience​ is me, your professor. ​Context​: Be real. Be honest. This is the best writing.

Requirements:

1. I want to hear your voice:​ this might be one of your only chances in college to write your heart out! You are already discussing yourself and your creative process, so you might as well take

advantage of your unique style and voice. Get comfortable (haha, I know right?) and get creative

(you can do it)!

2. Show me you have read and thought about your writing process​: Be specific in your discussion of your actual writing process, your plan to improve, and do make sure to reference the advice that

resonated with you. Make sure to include these elements:

● Describe your writing process from prompt to submission: ​What is your writing process​? What kinds of writing do you do? Why do you write? When do you write? How do you

decide what to write? How do you begin? How do you decide how to organize your

writing? How do you know when your project is finished?

● Evaluate your writing style and writing process.​ What do you do very well (strengths), and what do you need to keep working on (weaknesses)? What writing strategies or habits

are you comfortable with? What makes you anxious when writing?

● Compare the advice from the course readings that resonated with your writing process. What advice do you plan to put into practice this quarter with your writing?​ How do you plan to adapt this advice to your needs as a writer? Quote, cite, and explain at least 4 pieces

of advice that resonated with you (these pieces of advice can be strategies you already use

or advice you plan to put into practice this quarter).

● What effects could this advice have on your long-term writing goals​?​ What aspects of your process will change or stay the same? What aspects of your writing would you most

like feedback on? What are your goals for this course?

This first assignment is a Writing Process Analysis, which asks you to reflect, narrate, describe, analyse,

explain, quote, cite, apply, discuss, and plan for the future when it comes to your writing process and

style. Begin by asking yourself: what has been my writing process so far? How do I plan to strengthen or

improve my writing?

What about Genre?

–Writers always think about medium and genre. ​Medium​ refers to the materials used to compose the text (e.g., what materials are required when writing an essay as opposed to what materials are required

to compose and record a song). ​Genre​ refers to the type of text–there are many styles of songs; examples include rock and roll, dance music, Hip Hop, or Ranchera music.

● Genre requirements:​ Use first person (“I”) because this is a personal narrative. Avoid using Second Person perspective (“You”).

● Work with the standard essay format – Introduction, Body, Conclusion, Works Cited. ● Scope (Word Count)​: around 900 words. ● Format Requirements: ● Double-spaced, please. No need to worry about margins, headings, font, etc. ● On this assignment, your ​Works Cited page​ need only include a list of authors’ names and article

titles. In MLA format for ​in-text citations​, in order to properly cite in-text, you are required to use the author’s name and the page number on which you found the quote. Example: This quarter, I

want to practice Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to “sound like [my]self” (2).

Writing Process Analysis Reflection Letter: How’d You Do?

(​WAIT-​-This is written ​after​ the final draft of your Writing Process Analysis is due)

Salution:​ ​Dear​ Professor Asbell,

Paragraph 1:

Describe​ how you feel about your performance on your Writing Process Analysis. Reflect​ on what you feel 1. confident about, and 2. struggled with regarding this essay. Explain​ how you worked to revise your paper and what you spent the most time working on.

Paragraph 2:

List​ ​what you said were​ your strengths and weaknesses in your Writing Reflection Essay. Summarize​ what you wrote were your goals and plan for improvement.

Paragraph 3:

Reflect ​on what advice your received during Peer Review, and what you changed/didn’t change in response to it.

Explain​ what organization you used and why you chose it. Write a brief informal outline of each paragraph.

Paragraph 4:

Describe​ anything else you want me to know about you or your analysis.

Valediction: ​Sincerely,​ your name