Introduction to Units about Writing


These units cover the writing process as well as digital writing.

The writing process includes every decision a writer makes in order to move from an idea to a draft to a final, edited version. These units focus on specific moments or concepts in the writing process, offering strategies and examples for each one. The questions in these units are designed to help you practice decision-making. For example, the questions include sample thesis statements and ask you to decide which revision is needed, if revision is necessary. As you answer questions, you are practicing the decision-making approach you’ll need to apply to your own writing process.

The digital writing section offers tutorials on composing multimodal texts. Like writing essays, composing multimodal texts requires an intense writing process. These tutorials provide guidelines for using software and for making good choices that fit the writing situation.


In this (fair warning--long) video, a cartoonist draws and narrates his writing process. As you watch, look for something in his writing process that you want to try the next time you have to write a paper.

Credit: Created by Jonathan Beer, artwork by Lauren Ellis (

Download transcript.


At one time or another, most of us have written a paper in one sitting. Sometimes, the result was acceptable or even good; other times the paper didn’t reflect our best thinking. For most people, their “best thinking” isn’t what comes off the top of their heads. Rather, it is the result of a process.

Using a process when writing means coming up good ideas, developing plans, trying out your best ideas, making improvements, and sharing your ideas with readers. There is no one right way to proceed, and the route can even be messy. It would be convenient if there were a formula, but the truth is that each writer, situation, purpose, and audience requires a unique approach. You can, however, think about three general stages: planning, drafting, and revising.

Writing is not always a neat step-by-step process. When you revise a paragraph to make it more descriptive, for instance, you might also do more planning. Keep in mind as well that writing is not just drafting, not just forming paragraphs. You also need to revise, which means to re-see your work; such re-seeing may lead you to make drastic changes to your main point or organization. Moreover, you need to edit, to make sure that your words and punctuate clearly communicate your ideas. Although the units in this section appear step-wise, revisit the materials whenever you need them.

Most units assume you will be writing papers, usually papers about articles, stories, or books. By contrast, the digital writing section offers advice about composing photos, audio essays, or presentations; it even includes advice about personal branding for your job search. Composing these multimodal texts still requires a process.


The other units in this section address specific strategies or concepts that help writers move through the writing process. The videos, study pages, and activities offer models that you can imitate. As you work through each question in a pre-/post-test (if assigned), make note of phrases, sentences, or strategies that you want incorporate into your own writing.

LearningCurve is not included in the units of this section.