Organizing Your Writing Process: Invention, Research, Writing, and Revising

While in lower school levels you may have been able to draft up a written assignment the night before it was due you will find once you start writing at a university or college level that you will need to be a lot more organized in your writing of research papers.

Organization can help you to focus your research process and help you to avoid any repetition of facts in your first written draft. Overall a paper will be more professional if you apply a bit of organization skills to the process.

Naturally, your writing process consists of four stages, which are:

  1. invention,
  2. research,
  3. writing, and
  4. revising.

Invention stage

Organization should start with the creative or invention stage and continue through to your revision of the final draft. During the creative or "invention" process you want to come up with a focused topic for your research paper. When you are thinking about a special angle to give a topic you could start with brainstorming a range of different ideas on a large piece of paper. There are a number of approaches to invention process which include freewriting, clustering, mapping, cubing, etc. You can even develop your own technique, say making a voice recording to save your thoughts and then write them down and organize appropriately.



Although there is no actual logical flow to this type of invention that the different aspects that the writer considered important to include in the paper have been jotted down with very little order. Then lines or arrows were placed between those items that can be grouped together, or that could be related to each other in some way. There is no way you can get this part of the creation process wrong, but seeing your ideas on a piece of paper can help you determine which elements you want to include in your paper and what items are not as important.

Once you have given some focus to the inventive part of the paper writing process this will make the research process a little easier.

Research stage

Use invention techniques before you start writing.Given the range of books, periodicals, journals and other publications available both online and in print it is very easy to get overwhelmed by an information overload. Perhaps the easiest way to help focus your research efforts is to highlight some key terms that are important to your paper topic and concentrate on those terms when finding research journals to support your thesis. I will teach you further how to narrow down your topic to avoid needless headache about information overload.

You may find that before you start writing your paper that some of the research you have found impacts the thesis statement you had started off with. If the thesis statement needs a spot of refinement it would pay to do this before you start writing in earnest. However once you have settled on your final thesis statement make sure that the research used in the paper is directly related to elements raised by the thesis, and don't allow yourself to deviate from the focus of the paper.

Once you have settled on a thesis statement and completed your research process it is time to proceed to the next step in your writing process -- writing the paper.

Writing stage

So, finally you've reached 3rd stage of your writing process. At this point of the proceedings don't worry too much about paper formatting, although it is important that you have picked the right paper type for your assignment. If you are unsure of what is expected from the tutor look for indications in the assignment details. For example if the paper asks you to compare one author with another then you are looking at a compare and contrast essay. If however the instructions include terms such as "discuss", "analyze", or "consider" then you are being asked to write an interpretive paper. Argumentative papers often ask you to consider a statement and then either support or find evidence to contradict the statement, while persuasive essays ask you to take a stand on a particular issue. If you are at all confused as to what type of paper is being requested check with your tutor or take a look at the marking rubric to see what is required in your paper.

Many writers find it easier to write a paper after they have completed an outline for their work. Create an outline for yourself to organize thoughts. An outline can be as sparse or as detailed as you like, but it should include the thesis statement, the topic sentences for the main body paragraphs and a single sentence on the conclusion. By taking the time to write this outline before you start writing your first draft of the paper, you will be preventing any time wasting by writing "off the topic" halfway through your paper.

Once you have completed your first draft of the paper, put the work down and go out for at least an hour. The reason it is important to get some distance between yourself and the paper before you start to edit the paper is that it is often easy to overlook mistakes you might have made because you already know how the paper is meant to read, rather than actually checking that the paper is reading as it was intended.

Revising stage

Revising, or editing process, is the fourth and final stage in your writing process.

The editing process should be in three parts. Firstly you should check spelling and grammar. Most word processing programs offer a form of spell check but make sure that you also read through every word in your paper as well to double check the spelling in particular. If you miss the "d" from "and" for example the word "an" that you are left with is still considered a proper word by a spell checker, so make sure you read through your paper carefully checking all of the spelling and sentence structures.

The next part of the editing process should be on the content itself and how it is worded. One of the easiest ways to do this is to either have somebody else read your paper, or if you prefer you should read the paper out loud. This way you can check that the paper "flows" the way you intended and that you have not left any sentences unfinished or overly long.

Finally you want to make sure that your paper makes logical sense and that you have supported your thesis statement with a minimum of three topic sentence points. If you have followed the outline you drafted before you wrote the paper this final edit should be the easiest part of you writing process.

So there you go. With a bit of organization in your writing process you have completed an accurate and professionally written paper with a minimal of effort. By using tools such as brainstorming in the invention process and outlines in the writing process you can be sure that the topic of your paper is focused around the thesis you have devised and should earn you a decent grade.

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