Balancing the Steps

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
While in high school, I used to think the writing process was two simple steps: Write. Print and turn in. (Okay, so maybe three steps!)
In graduate school, when I was learning about teaching writing, I studied lots of circles and graphs and diagrams. It was the visualization of the writing process...but without "Schoolhouse Rock" as a guide.
The fun started when, in overcrowded academic trailers or in noisy cubicles, I tried to explain the writing process to college students:
1. Prewriting.
2. Writing.
3. Revising.
4. Editing.
5. Print and turn in (publication!).
Even as a published writer there have been days when I've felt like skipping step 1, starting at step 2 and leapfrogging to step 5. Ordinarily, like some of my former students, I've had the least amount of success without some form or preparation (step 1) and without some form of revising (steps 3 and 4).
The more I write, the more I appreciate the balancing act of writing. Truly a high-wire act that utilizes skills and determination and making use each step of the process to bring about our best work.
Certainly now (more than in high school), I appreciate the need for using each and every step, sometimes using more of number 1 than I might expect and enjoying the surprises I find in step 4. And step 5 is always a pleasure.

Elizabeth King Humphrey writes The Write Elizabeth blog and enjoys counting, when it is limited to five steps.


LuAnn Schindler said...

Some days, I would like to skip steps in the writing process too, but it seldom works.

But, as a former English instructor, your opening line makes me curious. Every school I have ever taught in has taught the five step writing process - as early as Kindergarten - and definitely in 1st grade. Students I taught knew it wasn't a two- or three-step process, and state writing standards enforced the five steps and six traits.

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