Successful Writing Process Practices

Composing Tools

Think about the information you have collected and your purpose for writing.
Write out your purpose (what you want the reader to know or think or do about the topic)
and then freewrite.

Make an outline or map of your paper.

Take a break and go for a walk to let ideas simmer in your mind.

Begin by writing the part you are most sure of.

When you become frustrated with a certain part, reread what you have written or skip the troublesome part and write the rest of the paper. You can fill in and re-organize later.

If you cannot think of an appropriate word or expression, leave a blank space. Later,
you may think of just the right word on your own, or your writing group or instructor may
be able to help you.

Reread your writing when you come to a natural stopping point. Reading what you have
written often helps you determine what comes next.

If creating paragraphs is difficult for you, go ahead and write the whole essay without paragraphs. Then reread the essay and decide where you end support for one idea and begin stating or supporting another idea. Indent at those places. Ask your instructor or peers to help you in areas of which you feel unsure.

Revision Tools

Asking questions as you revise is important. The following will guide your revision: If you have not given enough evidence to convince the reader you know what you are talking about, what can you add from first-hand experience or the text?

  • Do you need to change words or add explanatory sentences or words for your reader to understand what you are saying?
  • What areas of the essay are particularly strong? Can you use them as models for areas that are weak or confusing?
  • How can you tie your explanations and examples more closely to your controlling idea?
  • Is there another way to organize the essay that would make the essay stronger/more understandable/easier to read? Experiment by making several different outlines.

Editing Tools

List words you commonly misspell. Read your essay to find these words and correct them.

List errors you commonly make. Consult a handbook, your instructor, or a tutor to explain any errors you don’t understand. Review your essay to find your common errors and correct them.

Underline all verbs in your essay and complete the following:

  • Check tense. Are verbs consistently in one tense (past, present, etc)? There may be some exceptions, so read “around” each verb before changing.
  • Check for unnecessary helping verbs. Do you use “was going” when “went” will work just as well? Revise when needed.
  • Use different verbs as needed to avoid repetition and to add description, as in “scurried” instead of “walked.”

Double underline the transitional words and sentences in the essays. If you don’t have much to underline, work to include more transitional devices.

Circle the first two words of each sentence. Scan the essay looking for repetitive sentence beginnings. Revise for variety.

Touch each word of the essay with a pencil. This will help you focus on each word for spelling and typos.

Read the essay aloud to yourself or have someone else read it aloud to you. This will help you hear awkward phrasing and missing words.

Incorporating Sources (all answers should be yes)

  • Do you give each author’s name and source title the first time you use a source in your essay?
  • Are quotations and paraphrases integrated into your text? Credit tags are usually necessary.
  • Have you given proper credit not only to the words of others but also to the ideas of others?

Transitioning Tools


for example
for instance
in other words
to illustrate
There is an increasing interest in action movies today. For example, such films as “The Matrix” and “The Fast and the Furious” are drawing huge audiences.

Result or Conclusion:

as a result 
to sum up
in other words
in conclusion
Studies have shown that the average freshman in college has not had basic preparation in English and math. Consequently, colleges are forced to offer remedial work in these two subjects.

Contrast or Qualification:

in contrast 
on the other hand
on the contrary
at the same time
despite this fact
Subcompact cars can get as much as thirty or more miles to a gallon of gasoline. However, driving a subcompact in fast, heavy traffic is much more dangerous than driving a standard car.


in addition
equally important
To reduce your grocery bills, eat a full meal before you go shopping. In addition, follow closely the list you have prepared beforehand.

Time & Space:

at last
To study for a test, first read through your notes completely, picking out the major points to be studied. Then write down any important names and dates to fix them in your mind. Finally, read your textbooks to supplement your notes and to reinforce what you have already studied.