Prewriting: A Neglected Stage of the Writing Process


The Writing Process

If you’re to become an effective writer, you’re going to have to embrace the notion of writing as a process.  A carefully prepared piece is one that takes full advantage of each stage of the writing process.  Unfortunately, prewriting, the first stage of the writing process, is often omitted by many writers.  Many writers feel like prewriting wastes time.  If one would fully understand that prewriting is not simply about using strategies like clustering, freewriting, mapping, and etc., he or she will begin to embrace prewriting more.

The prewriting stage of the writing process does not require you to conduct all of your efforts on paper.  When a writer discusses his or her ideas with another person, this is a meaningful part of the prewriting process.  You will find that engaging in serious discourses about your topic during the prewriting stage will benefit you tremendously.  You might discover that the idea you thought was a novel one is really something that many others have done.  However, the person or persons you discuss your topic with can assist you in coming up with novel approaches to doing something others have already done.

Discussing your topic with others during the prewriting process can enable you to gain new ideas and refine your extant ideas.  People can lead you in the right direction on your topic.  You might have been headed in a direction that would lead you to say, “I have writer’s block.”  What you would experience is not “writer’s block” but the frustration that emerges from a lack of meaningful discussion about your topic before you moved into the drafting stage of the writing process.  If you experience “writer’s block” during the drafting stage, then it could mean you completely abandoned the prewriting stage or you did not devote enough time to the prewriting stage.

I have an opportunity to read a number of essays and blogs weekly.  I have discovered that many writers and bloggers could benefit from dedicating more time to the prewriting stage of the writing process before they begin drafting their pieces.  Many writers and bloggers begin with an idea that they’ve given themselves only a short amount of time to think about and then they move immediately to the drafting stage.  You can detect the weaknesses of their ideas when you see how their ideas lack development and/or when they go off topic often.

It would not hurt you to begin a conversation with someone about a topic you have in mind for an essay or blog piece before you start to compose it.  You will find that your writing will improve dramatically when you start to embrace the prewriting stage of the writing process.  Even when you think you have everything figured out about a piece you plan to write, don’t omit prewriting—engage in at least one prewriting activity.

Before you begin drafting your next piece, be sure you devote enough time to prewriting to give yourself the best opportunity to have a truly well-written piece.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison



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