Chapter 3: Writing as a Process
The Writing Process
In ENG 101, you are expected to follow a process in order to craft strong, revised, and edited drafts for each essay. Below are the terms and brief descriptions for each step of the writing process we will use in my class:
Free-writing begins the writing process. This is usually an informal in-class writing or brainstorming a possible topic or argument.
Outlining creates a roadmap of your essay and helps you stay focused and organized. A lot of students “hate” outlining but it is a mandatory part of the process and many students have become life-long converts after realizing its benefits.
Drafting involves working through ideas, finding an organizational pattern that fits the assignment, and roughly integrating sources. In my course this process involves the creation of at least two separate drafts. The first is Draft 1 and is ½ of the total length of your essay including the intro + thesis + context + 1st body paragraph. Basically, I ask you to write a “shitty” first draft and bring it to class. Draft 2 is the complete rough draft of your essay including all sections. This is still a rough draft but your ideas should all be in there.
Highlighting and Labeling are completed for and on Drafts 1 and 2 as homework and often during the Peer Response process. These are cognitive strategies I use to ensure students are including the major requirements in the essay, helps me recognize any issues you might be having with determining the purpose of each paragraph, and allows students to “talk to me” on his or her text. (See below for more information)
Peer and Self Response Workshops require that you use a rubric to make sure you’ve included all of the global requirements. I allow students to work alone or with a partner but I strongly recommend working in pairs.
The Final Draft is the final revised draft of the assignment. This draft should reflect the entire process up until this point and should be as refined as possible. You will print, label and bring it to class on the due date. This is the one I will grade.
Final Editing is done in class on the final printed draft. You will be given the opportunity to perform a final read through during class to make sure you do not overlook small errors such as misplaced commas, margin size, spelling errors, etc. I include final editing because I don’t want you to think of me as your editor and/or the last word in good writing. YOU wrote the essay, YOU put thought and effort into it, and YOU get the opportunity to clean-up any silly mistakes because writing is a process and good writers know that writing is never finished.
A Writing Reflection will be done in class and helps you connect your assignment to your life, my class, other CSU classes, and your future career. It should help you make connect transferable skills from the assignment to other areas of your life.
Revising involves rethinking content and structural decisions and does not mean simply correcting errors. You are able to revise an essay if it does not earn a grade of 80% or higher. Writing is always about revision and if you want to revise at any time, for any reason simply justify your reasons to me during office hours.
What is Highlighting and Labeling?
You will highlight everything you read and write using the same colors. In this way, I hope to help you see that paragraphs in texts “do” certain things such as introduce main ideas, provide example, concede to arguments, make arguments, etc. At first this seems confusing, but over time, it will not only make sense but will help you become stronger readers and writers. However, to keep it easy we will have only four colors that correspond to writing features:
|Arguments (made in paragraphs, not just the “thesis”)
|Examples to support arguments
|Counter-claims, concessions, and/or rebuttals
You will be asked to label portions of your text in order to help you learn how to revise independently. Each assignment asks you to point out key genre (essay-type) and rhetorical (persuasive) features. For instance, in the summary you might be asked to label your introduction, thesis statement, and main ideas.
Labeling also helps me grade your essays faster, shows me that you are actively participating in class discussions and the drafting/editing process, and that your revisions are global, not small sentence-level revisions.
Labeling helps you visualize what might be missing in your essay, recognize what sentences and/or paragraphs “do” in essays, and shows me what you’re thinking so that I can respond to it accordingly.
The Writing Center
The Writing Center is located on the 1st floor of the library in the back left corner. To make an appointment you should use Starfish. The Writing Center is open Monday – Thursday from 9:30am – 7:00pm and on Fridays from 9:30am – 4:00pm.
I strongly recommend using the Writing Center, but remember, it is not an editing service. Instead, it is a place to go and get feedback about your writing, not only your grammar. In order to get the most out of your 30-minute session, I suggest the following:
- Bring a paper with instructor feedback;
- Write at least two questions on the paper about issues you want to address;
- Bring the assignment and/or rubric so that you can get help talking out organization;
- Be polite and be on time.
The Writing Center is an excellent place to get help for all of you classes and for all assignments including but not limited to; lab reports, research papers, group projects, journal entries, ESL help/guidance, and grammar tutorials. In my class, if you go to the Writing Center get them to sign your Bonus Point Writing Center slip (available on Blackboard) to earn two bonus points per visit.
Revision versus Editing
Generally speaking, students assume that editing is the same as revision. Within this assumption is the idea that revising means either correcting errors pointed out by the instructor and/or correcting “grammar mistakes,” which is often code for punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Neither of these options is revising. To revise a work a student must consider his or her goal in writing the paper. He or she must then think metacognitively (thinking about thinking) about how well the paper achieves that goal. To do that a student might consider the following:
- Is the organization clear and logical?
- Does each paragraph “do” something? Does it have an obvious point and/or purpose?
- Are the sources relied upon credible and diverse?
- Does the language, documentation style, and formatting reinforce credibility?
- Are the language choices, documentation style, and formatting appropriate for the target audience?
Changes made after considering these metacognitive questions, are revisions. Incorporating more evidence, adding a concession, removing a personal story, etc. are all examples of global-level revisions.
Editing, on the other hand, often includes reading and rereading to check for errors. Errors are associated with spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. but editing considers the readability of a text. So, it is not that one person is right or wrong, it more about how well you can reach the audience you are targeting.
Social Media Writing Scenario:
You want your friends to know you’ve just gotten a promotion but you do not want to seem too braggy. So you sit and think about how to craft a message that lets everyone know what you earned, while still seeming modest. You begin typing. You read it. You realize the language you used doesn’t make sense. You delete the post. You try again. You write a short and concise sentence, “I am so thankful for my, new job and lovely new opportunities.” You like it. You decide that is the idea you want to get across. Then you reread it and realize that the word “lovely” doesn’t really sound like you, so you change it to “awesome,” which sounds much more you. You think you made a mistake with punctuation, you check Google, you’re right, you did. So, you change it, “I am so thankful for my new job and the awesome opportunity.” There—finished.
As you can see, this process involved revision and editing and it is likely something you encounter all the time, now I am just asking you to be aware of it.