In this section, we guide you through the main stages of the writing process. Links are provided to AWELU resources that are of relevance during different stages of writing.

Most of the resources here are of a general kind and will thus be of use both to essay writers and to writers within other genres. Some texts are mainly aimed at students who are new to academic writing in English, and who might need help in finding their way around the various resources offered on the AWELU platform.

Instructional video from the free online MOOC "Writing in English at University" which was developed at Lund University in 2016.

What is the "writing process"?

Writing can be seen as a process in which a text develops and changes all the way from first ideas to finished text. By revising and rewriting, writers develop their thinking and their texts during this process. The writing process is often presented graphically in a manner which indicates the linear, but also cyclical nature of writing; as the text develops, writers return to previous stages of the process to make additions and to revise their texts.

In process-oriented writing courses, there is thus a focus on text-production as process rather than as product. This means that students do not hand in a text for summative assessment but focus is placed on pre-writing and re-writing of the text, and students receive formative assessment during the writing process.

The writing process can be divided into several stages. The work that is done before the writing begins, when material is collected and ideas are developed, is often referred to as the pre-writing stage or the invention stage. The actual writing of the text is often divided into stages such as drafting and revising, and the last phase of the writing process (often referred to as the rewriting stage) consists of the stages of editing, proofreading and publishing.

The AWELU resources for the writing process have been divided into three parts, each one addressing a major stage in the writing process:

It is important to note that the stages of the writing process are not fixed, and that writers go back and forth between them. Rewriting at all stages will involve editing, for instance, and during the final stage of the writing process, many writers see a need to add new pieces of text, thus returning to the pre-writing stage.

For further reading: Text as process, not as product (click to expand)

In process-oriented writing, the focus is on the development of the text rather than on the finished product; the focus has shifted from text as product to text as process (Murray, 1972). This means that when the focus is on the writing of the text, much focus is also placed on pre-writing and re-writing activities, and the writer has a chance to develop and improve the text before it is submitted for final.

For an overview of the development of process-oriented composition theory, including aspects such as collaborative learning, computer technologies, and multiculturalism, see Gleason (2001):

Two early, but still relevant, texts on the writing process were written by D. Gordon Rohman (1965) and by Donald M. Murray (1972):

  • Rohman, D.G. (1965). Pre-Writing: The Stage of Discovery in the Writing Process. College Composition and Communication, 16, 106-112.
  • Murray, D.M. (2003). Teach Writing as a process not product. In V. Villanueva (Ed.), Cross-talk in comp theory: A reader. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English.

What is academic writing?

Academic writing is characterised by formality and by disciplinary conventions. Read about this here:

There are some stylistic aspects of writing that writers need to be aware of in order to successfully communicate with their readers. Below are links to AWELU resources that may be of use:

Our focus here is on writing

As the focus of the AWELU platform is on writing, we do not discuss what can be referred to as the research process. Research often goes hand in hand with writing, and there are, of course, aspects that overlap, but as procedures for choosing topic, method and approach vary greatly between different fields and disciplines, our focus is limited to aspects directly linked to writing.

Students will receive guidelines and information from their departments regarding what is expected regarding choice of topic, method and approach. Many departments also have guidelines for written work (preferred format, reference style, etc.).