Writing is a repetitive activity that involves visiting and re-visiting both process and content goals until you have a readable product of desired content and quality.
The writing process is broken down generally into three stages:
- Pre-drafting refers to anything you do before producing a readable draft of your work. This can include planning, brainstorming, researching, and outlining. You don’t necessarily have to complete the steps of pre-drafting in order, and there are lots of different strategies you can try to get your ideas flowing.
- Drafting is the formation of a readable product. This step is often called writing, but we’re calling it drafting to separate it from the writing process in general.
- Post-drafting refers to the tasks you complete after a readable draft has been produced. This is the stage where you check whether your draft is actually good and if it meets the assignment requirements by revising, editing, and polishing your work.
Some writers find it useful to work through the writing stages in this order, while others don’t. We recommend starting with pre-drafting, but it’s totally okay (and often effective) to switch between stages while you’re writing.
Please note that some of our advice relates specifically to research papers. If you’re not working on a research paper, you can ignore the research/sources advice; all the other suggestions should still apply.
To write an effective research paper, follow these steps:
- Start early in the semester and plan your time
- Understand the assignment
- Locate your sources
- Study and understand your sources
- Formulate and organize ideas for your draft (if you’re researching, consider including in-text citations to keep track of where ideas came from—these citations only have to be correct enough for you to understand them; you can make sure they’re “correct” later)
- Produce a draft
- Revise and edit your draft
- Complete/correct citations
- Put the final touches on your paper (otherwise known as polishing)
- Submit your assignment
Hey Lethbridge College students! The information in this post will help you grow your competency in Career & Personal Development.
Explore all seven of the Student Core Competencies by visiting your Lethbridge College Canvas community, The Hive. There you’ll find more information about the competencies, explore why they are beneficial, and learn about the various ways that you can earn badges.
Sample Student Paper
This Writing Process resource provides examples of how a sample student paper develops, from the planning stage through to the final polishing stage. As you work through the stages of the writing process, you’ll discover some hints and suggestions to make your writing more effective.
Please note that this paper is not in the most recent American Psychological Association (APA) format. If you’d like an example paper that follows APA 7th edition guidelines, view the LC APA Sample Paper document on our APA Style Resources page.
You might also want to check out the University of Richmond Writer’s Web, a free, publicly accessible writing handbook.