Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Writing Process--Why and How?

Question: What is the “writing process”?

Answer: Depends on whether I know what I am going to write, as in a memo or e-mail business communication, or whether I am not sure about what I am going to write.

When I know what I am going to write, like a memo, or an e-mail business communication, I simply sit at the word processor and type in the “To,” “From” and “Subject” lines. Then, on the keyboard, I type the memo or the business e-mail, trying to be as concise, yet as clear as possible. I try to keep memos and business e-mails as short as possible. The fewer paragraphs the better. Never more than a single page. That is my “writing process” when I know what I am going to say.

When I am not sure what I am going to say, I go through a series of five steps. 1. If necessary, I study a model of the format I am going to use. 2. Assuming I have a topic, I brainstorm the topic. 3. I review my brainstorm and define my main idea. 4. I write a draft 5. I revise and edit.

When I was teaching writing in class, I demonstrated my writing process with a little poem called a “Cinquain.”

1. If needed, study a model of the format you are going to use. Here is a model of a “Cinquain.”

Noun (topic, main idea), (one word)
Adjectives (two words)
Verbs (three words)
Phrase (four words)
Summary (one word)

Orange, Black
Stalks, Leaps, Kills
Burning Eyes and Soul

Here is a second example of a Cinquain:

Slippery, Slinky
Squeezes, Stabs, Strangles
Slides On Ground Slowly

2. Assuming you already have a topic, brainstorm the topic. My topic is “school.” Here is my brainstorm of "school."

hard work; thinking; reading; textbooks; writing; teachers; homework; intense; ideas; problem solving; different subjects; education; independent study; learning; growing mentally; sometimes difficult; stimulating; boring; routine; synthesizing; confusing; 12 years; 13 years; learning to read; times tables; theorems; geography; critical thinking; memorizing; schedule of classes; schedule for study; accomplishments; failure; intellectual; success; rewards; not real life; preparation for life; graduation; degree.

3. Review the brainstorm. Main idea is the same as my topic, “School.”

4. Draft:

Difficult, Demanding
Thinking, Writing, Reading
Rewarding Experiences and Accomplishments

5. Revising and Editing.

After revision:

Intense, Intellectual
Questioning, Studying, Growing
The World of Ideas

When I am not sure about what I am writing, I (1) study a model of the format. (2) brainstorm the topic. (3) write the main idea. (4) write a draft. (5) revise and edit.

Tomorrow, I will be more specific about how to use my writing process with exposition.

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