The 5 Stages of Writing Process

Writing is process because when one writes, the ideas go through a series of changes or stages before the written text is finalized. There are five (5) steps in the writing process which are as follows:

1. Prewriting

Whatever it is one wants to write, it is ,important that planning be done at this stage. The writer determines the purpose for writing and the intended audience, chooses a topic, narrows down the topic, gathers detailed ideas, and develops the controlling idea or thesis of the piece of writing. Prewriting is all about generating ideas to write. This stage is where you think about the content of your writing. There are several activities you can do to generate ideas and come up with content to write. They include the following:


It involves talking in a small group about ideas you can write about. Your group will need a secretary who will jot down the ideas you talk about. In jotting down the ideas, the secretary will not give much attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation or proper organization. This is not the stage for writing good sentences and paragraphs. The secretary can write in whatever way as long as the ideas are recorded. In doing brainstorming, your group may browse through magazines, newspapers, websites, and any other reference material.

Free Writing

This involves doing brainstorming all by yourself. This means you are the secretary. You will keep on jotting down whatever comes to your mind. This activity is called free writing because you simply write down whatever comes to your mind without regard to organization, punctuation, spelling, or grammar. As a proactive writer, you can make it a good practice to keep a copy of useful articles you encounter on any day. You can use this for future reference.


Oftentimes, the topic you think of is too broad for you to write about. The short article you will write will not be enough to give a complete discussion of the topic simply because it is too broad. You will need to narrow down your topic so that it becomes narrow or limited enough for you to write about. For example, you cannot write about education because it is too broad. You will need to narrow it down for you to write several paragraphs about your new topic. You can do this by doing clustering. In doing this, you will write your broad topic in the middle of a piece of paper and write lines connected to bubbles that become narrower as you go outward as shown in the following graphic organizer. This cluster is the graphic organizer you come up with when you do clustering.

clustering diagram

Using a Venn Diagram

Sometimes you will be asked to write about the differences or similarities between two things or concepts. This is called comparison and contrast. If you write about the similarities between your two topics, then the article you come up with is called a comparison. If you write about the differences between your two topics, then the article you come up with is called a contrast.

The very useful graphic organizer for this is called a Venn diagram. It is composed of two intersecting circles. You write in the middle the similarities between the two topics and write on the sides their differences. The graphic organizer below shows where to write similarities and differences.

venn diagram

Using a Cause and Effect Tree

When you want to write about causes and effects you can use a graphic organizer called cause and effect tree. First, you draw a tree with roots. You label each root as a cause. Then you draw fruits and label them as the effects.

cause and effect tree


When you want the opinion of experts or the point of view of several individuals concerning a topic or issue, interviewing people is a very good activity to do. You need to prepare your questions ahead of time. You also need to write down or record the responses of your interviewees. After the interview, you need to summarize the responses you gathered. You may need help from your teacher in doing this.

Conducting a Survey

A survey involves making use of a questionnaire in which the people you ask (called respondents) are able to write down quick responses to several questions. The topics for your survey are ones that are very interesting and relevant for you. This may include favorite celebrities, popular vacation places visited, hobbies, etc. You can also conduct a survey about a timely issue and people’s feelings, ideas, and opinions about such issues. You may need the help of your teacher in coming up with a survey questionnaire.

Coming upWith a Topic Outline

A topic outline is a list of main ideas and supporting details. They are usually numbered using roman numerals and capital letters. Your topic outline can help you organize your thoughts about the ideas you will write about. In doing a topic outline, you need to make sure that you put main ideas above details. Main ideas are broader than supporting details. You also need to make sure that the details actually support the main ideas. A topic outline involves using words or phrases. The following is a topic outline about the writing process.

Writing a Reflection

When you are asked to attend, undergo, or experience an event, you may also be asked to give a reflection. In this case, it would be good to write your reflection right after the experience so that it would still be fresh in your memory. You may also talk about your reflection and record it using a voice or video recorder and then write it down later. Too often, you may be tempted to put off giving your reflection until near the deadline. By this time, you would already be hard-pressed to remember the details of your experiences. This is especially true if there are multiple events you need to attend or experience.

Purpose, Audience, and Genre

Three important issues you need to decide on are purpose, audience, and genre. You need to be settled about the actual purpose of your writing. You should have only one clear purpose for writing; otherwise, your writing will sound rambling and your readers will not be clear about what you are trying to accomplish in your writing. You also need to decide the audience or expected readers of your written output. You can have the same topic and purpose but the way you share it will be different depending whether your audience are adults or teenagers, knowledgeable and trained professionals in your field, or a more general audience. Your choice of audience will determine how much clarification you need as well as explanation of technical terms, concepts, or processes. More importantly, your audience will determine the tone of your writing. You will have a more authoritative tone if you write to people who are subordinate to you and a less authoritative one for people at the same level as you or higher. You can also use a serious, funny, sentimental, or even emotionless tone. The genre of your writing deals with what kind of output you will produce. Will it be an editorial or op-ed? Will it be simply informative? Will you use a more artistic, literary, or creative approach? The choice will be up to you or to the person to whom you are accountable to.

2. Drafting

In the drafting stage, the prewriting notes and sentences are turned into paragraphs for the first draft. The draft has three important parts—the introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction must be strong enough to grab the reader’s attention and must include the thesis or controlling idea. The body develops the controlling idea and presents details that elaborate on and supports that idea. The conclusion, very often, restates the thesis and summarizes the most important concepts of the paper.

This is the stage where you write your topic sentences. The topic sentences should be narrow enough to be discussed in one paragraph. In fact, your topic sentences will be the starting point for writing paragraphs. The topic sentence should not be too broad such that one paragraph is not enough to discuss it. The drafting stage is also the stage where you come up with a good thesis sentence. A good thesis sentence summarizes all the topic sentences in one long sentence.

In writing your first draft, you need to learn to utilize the right words that will express your ideas according to the purpose of your writing. Your words must also correspond to the kind of audience you are writing to. For example, you need to avoid the use of the words you or yours unless you are writing to your subordinates because you or yours sends the feeling that you are authoritative over your readers especially when used many times. The right words will also show if your writing expresses the kind of genre you want your written output to become.

Ideas for Drafting

  • Make a discovery draft Just start writing and let your feelings and ideas lead you in developing your topic. Let your mind wander into concepts and ideas you may not have explored before.
  • Make a planned draft Arrange your ideas in a certain way—in a topic outline or in a sentence outline before you begin writing. A planned draft provides more structured writing.

3. Revising

Revising is going through the paper to see how well the issues of purpose, audience, and genre have been addressed. Revising is also checking if there are ways of improving the style, word choice, figurative language, sentence variety, and subtlety of meaning.

Check for the following:

  • inclusion of main idea/thesis statement
  • use of precise nouns, verbs, and modifiers
  • adequacy and balance of details and evidence
  • unity, coherence, and logic of ideas
  • consistency of point of view
  • use of transitional words, phrases, and sentences
  • variety of sentence types
  • appropriateness of tone for audience and purpose

4. Editing

Editing is the process of checking the accuracy of facts and correcting errors in spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics (spelling, punctuation, capitalization).

Check for the following:

  • subject-verb agreement
  • pronoun-antecedent agreement
  • run-on sentences and sentence fragments
  • capitalization and use of punctuation marks
  • spelling of unfamiliar words
  • usage of confusing word pairs

Most writers use a set of proofreading marks for this purpose.

Proofreading marks 1
proofreading marks 3
proofreading marks 4

The stages drafting, revising, and editing can be cyclic. This means that you can write a first draft and then revise and edit it. In doing so, you write a second draft. This second draft will also be revised and edited. You then write a third draft. This will again undergo the stages of revising and editing. If it is satisfactory, then you will no longer need to write a fourth draft; otherwise, you will have to write a fourth draft and so on until your writing becomes satisfactory.

5. Publishing

Publishing is producing a final copy of a piece of writing and presenting it to an audience. Decisions have to be made about which form will best reach the intended audience, and accomplish the intended purpose. For example, if you want to reach more readers, then you will want to publish your work online in websites that are visited by many people. If your intended audience is your schoolmates, then putting your work up in bulletin boards across the campus may be enough.

Ideas for publishing:

  • presenting orally in class through a report, speech, or dramatic presentation
  • posting on a bulletin board or on a blog
  • creating a multimedia presentation
  • publishing in a school paper, a local newspaper, or a literary magazine