Checklist: The Writing Process

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Word Checklist

Remember that there is no one "correct" writing process that will guarantee great results every time. But if you are not intentional about your own process, then research and writing will almost always be more stressful than they need to be and you may not always get results that reflect the work you have put in.

So an effective place to start any research or writing project is to create a plan for yourself—be intentional about your process. Use this checklist to make sure your research and writing process includes these important steps. It doesn't always matter exactly where in the process they occur—but they need to be in your process somewhere. And don't forget that any step in the process may occur more than once.

  • Make a research and writing plan
  • Re-read and understand the assignment
  • Understand the research requirements (what kinds of sources are okay to use?)
  • Read or re-read relevant primary texts, making notes about key quotes
  • Brainstorm
  • Outline
  • Research (again, being careful to use appropriate sources)
    • Evaluate each source: Has it been vetted? What do we know of the author? Is it fact, opinion, or something in between? Is there an obvious bias?
  • Begin a rough draft
  • Revise and continue developing the draft
  • Edit for basic sentence-level mechanics and for citations

Any good research and writing process will likely include all of these steps, though not necessarily in this order. And you may revisit certain steps a number of times throughout the process. Outlining, for example, may be ongoing. And research itself may be something you do early in the process but then again later as you notice gaps that need to be filled.

The exact order of the steps in your writing and research process may vary with each project you undertake. And be sure to make changes to your process when things do not go as smoothly as you would like or when the process is not producing the results that you would like. But more important than the precise order of the steps in your research and writing process is that you have taken the time to be intentional—to write down for yourself exactly what your process is going to be. Starting with this plan for yourself will make the overall experience of writing and research much less stressful.