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Before You Write

One of the most critical writing process topics to cover for academic writers is prewriting. This first stage of the writing process, known as the prewriting stage, is where scholars research, think, research more, think even more and hopefully, answer important questions.

If a scholar begins to write before thinking critically about what he/she wants to say, then the clarity of ideas as well as the relationships between all of their ideas and research can become muddled. Though I devote nearly an hour to delving into the intricacies of prewriting when conducting writing workshops and webinars, I want to introduce some of the important questions to ask before you start writing. They are...

1. Who is the audience?

2. What is the primary purpose for writing?

3. What do you know about the topic as the researcher/writer?

4. What do you need to learn about the topic as the researcher/writer?

5. What do you want to say about the topic that is specific, relevant and meaningful?

The last question is bolded and italicized because it reflects your reason for writing, which is the most important question to answer before drafting. Answering this question produces your thesis (i.e., main idea, claim, argument, position, main point, hypothesis, etc.).

As you continue to write about amazing research topics, remember do not start writing a draft prematurely. Instead, take the time to sift through your ideas, sources, research and thoughts. Sit down to answer the questions above so that you can write a good draft driven by a clear intention.

Also, with the new Cultivate the Writer (CTW) Center for Academic Development membership, you can gain unlimited access to more than 20 academic writing and skill development webinars, including prewriting as well as the other three stages of the writing process, for 12 months. Click here to become a member today!

Cultivating tip at a time!

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