The Writing Process

There are a number of different ways the steps of the writing process can be defined and sequenced. I prefer the arrangement shown below because it can easily be recalled with the mnemonic device PODRE

  • Prewriting – Generating ideas about the topic
  • Organizing – Arranging ideas
  • Drafting – Putting ideas into sentences and paragraphs
  • Revising – Rewriting for logic, clarity, and cohesion
  • Editing – Proofreading and correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. 

Prewriting is the essential first step to the writing process. The goal of prewriting is to generate ideas–lots of ideas–and access unconscious material. Thus it is important that the critical mind be “turned off” during this stage of the writing process. There are many different prewriting techniques, and they appeal to different types of thinkers. It is not necessary to use the same prewriting technique all the time; different types of writing, in fact, may benefit more from one of the particular prewriting techniques listing below.

  • Freewriting – Writing about the topic continuously and without self-censorship or concern for spelling, punctuation, and grammar
  • Clustering (Mapping) – Using a diagram to arrange and connect points related to the topic
  • Questioning – Producing a series of questions related to the topic
  • Brainstorming – Noting points brought up by discussing the topic with others
  • Listing – Creating a simple vertical list of ideas related to the topic
  • Outlining – Employing an informal version of the traditional writing outline

11 responses to “The Writing Process

  1. I’ve never heard of the mnemonic device PODRE, but it is very helpful with the writing process. I’ll make a note of it for Eng101 class.

  2. Michelle Pedrigal

    My problem in writing has always been blocking other ideas. Hence, I get a writer’s block and unable to even begin. When I brainstorm by jotting down ideas, I eliminate most of them. I usually end up with at least four ideas on my paper, while the rest are either erased or not even written. I immediately search for perfection. So, if the idea or thought is imperfect, I cancel it. But as my Psychology professor told us, “Keep it as an option.” I can be extremely stubborn, so I am unsure if I will be successful in changing this. I try though, I truly do.

    • Diana Hernandez

      Hey Michelle, I read your comment, and unfortunately I have the same issues. I’m kind of glad I’m not the only one with this issue. I was wondering if you have any tips or advices on how to overcome this. Because so far I haven’t found a method to overcome this problem, and it just makes it really stressful to write any essay.

  3. Noah Shepherd

    Normally I composed essays and papers by simply beginning to write and continuing on until the end. I didn’t usually use any specific format. But with this class, I’ve really learned how helpful a format can be. It can make papers and essays much more organised that if I had not used any method whatsoever other than writing.

    Its pretty easy to tell between two different papers who used the two formats (One using the “just write” method, and the other using careful planning such as outlined in this article). The “just write” method usually produces a disorganised essay, while a more regimented method produces a coherent essay. This is my experience anyways…

  4. Terri Greening

    I always use an informal outline, otherwise I tend to end up with an essay that doesn’t flow. I’m more analytical than creative, so organizing points in a logical sequence works well for me. I don’t think I am very good at freewriting, although this class did make me practice it more!

    Sometimes when I write I change the order of my key points depending on how the topic evolves. That’s why I love cut and paste…

  5. As someone who got this question wrong on the first quiz, I hardly took the “PODRE” technique seriously. I wasn’t until the rough draft of my research paper that I realized this practice is beyond useful. The prewriting came the quickest and easiest to me. I already had a good idea about what I chose to research, so much of the work came in the organization. Getting all of the information I had attained was difficult until I organized it logically, starting with the hard facts and figures, recent facts and figures, and ending with specific cases that were more the exception than the rule. Drafting for me is much like prewriting, except instead of the thoughts being internal, they are now on paper. Revising is always fun for me, like rearranging pieces to a puzzle–most everything fits in, it just takes a little ordering. Finally, editing has become the easiest of the five due the magic of spell/grammar check. After running that application, I just needed a final proof read of the draft in order to correct what the computer missed. If said has been followed thoroughly, a great final draft will appear just like it did for me.

  6. Oscar C.

    I’ve been using PODRE since my English 28 class and it has helped me organize my writing! I’ve always skipped simple steps that are necessary in order to become a better writer. Now I’m able to develop more ideas because I focus on the content first rather than my grammar.

  7. Taka Zabala

    I was never a fan of drafting. I’ve always thought of drafting and prewriting as a one.

  8. Emily Giang

    One method I recently tried was writing out individual questions and answering them accordingly. This method works best when I have to write a lengthy argument that is more than 5 pages or it really helps organize your thoughts and materials. By using this method, I was able to control the flow of the essay and the order of the topics. What I also did was on several separate papers, I’d title them into categories of my main topic sentences. I’d find quotations or informations relating to that topic and note them in the appropriate paper along with the page number–if it was in a book–was when I need evidence, it’s all right in front of me, organized.

  9. Christina Membrere

    The PODRE method has significantly increased my writing in so many ways. I’ve noticed that my essays have more structure, organization, and more logical information than before I started using this method. Writing essays have been a little easier as well. It makes writing for myself much more interesting.

  10. Maritza Rangel

    I’ve never heard of the mnemonic device PODRE, but I think it’s a great way to get all your ideas on paper and organized. I have learned that it is important to stick to the one main topic and provide supporting details to support what you are writing about.

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