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The writing process

Learn more about aspects of the writing process to help you stay motivated and on track with your writing.

What works for you?

You are unique. No one else thinks your thoughts, lives your experiences, has your particular goals, or writes your papers. This means that you are the best judge of your own strengths, your best ideas, and your biggest challenges as a writer. For example, you may have a lot of creativity, and you find it's easy to feel excited about your writing, but you may find it difficult to stay focussed and productive once the initial enthusiasm wears off. The reverse could also be true: you may find it easy to meet deadlines effectively, but you find it challenging to think of ideas to write about. In fact, you might find that your experiences and challenges will change depending on the project or assignment you are working on.

Either way, this guide is for you, and here's why: instead of prescribing how you should write, the next sections provide you with a variety of options and approaches to support and even improve the way you do write. This guide models the process of identifying, anticipating, and addressing a variety of challenges such as an inability to find the right ideas, goals, motivation, focus, or time needed to complete a writing project. While you may only face some of these challenges or may only need some of the strategies to build on your strengths as a writer, the purpose of this guide is to provide a comprehensive overview of the different solutions to the most common steps and challenges you may face in your writing process.

Image credit: Andre Mouton via Unsplash

Assess yourself as a writer

Whether you’re an RRU student, faculty member, or staff member, you have likely received feedback on your writing from instructors, journal editors, or colleagues. While external feedback is important to developing new knowledge and skills, self-assessment can also help you become more aware of your writing strengths and challenges, as well as give you a tool to measure your progress. It can be challenging to know what to consider when trying to assess your own writing skills and process, but as a starting point, please try the exercises below.

Writing skills evaluation [1]

Using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 identifying a skill you lack and 10 identifying a skill in which you excel, evaluate your writing skills:

  • I am able to synthesize large amounts of research to determine the broader perspective on the topic.
  • I critique research to see where there may be gaps in the author’s logic or flaws in the reasoning.
  • I identify significant connections between ideas that may not be obvious to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic.
  • I write the introduction so the reader understands my topic and why it matters.
  • I clearly articulate a thesis statement or research questions.
  • I write clear transition sentences to connect sections of my document.
  • I write accurate analyses of research in clear, easy-to-understand language.
  • I use transition words (e.g., “however” or “in addition”) to show the relationship between ideas.
  • I vary sentence length, using short sentences as well as longer ones, to keep my reader’s attention.
  • I write in active voice rather than passive voice when active voice is more precise.

Notice which individual items you rated as fairly high, which point to your strengths, as well as the items to which you gave a lower score. Those point to areas where you could build new skills.

[1] From “How to Honestly Assess Your Writing,” by A. Benson Brown, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Academic Coaching & Writing LLC. Adapted with permission.

Writing process evaluation [2]

Rate the following 10 items on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning this item is never part of your writing process and 10 meaning it is always part of your process:

  • I stop researching and begin writing, even if I don’t feel completely ready.
  • I schedule time to work on my project, rather than trying to steal time away from other activities.
  • As much as possible, I concentrate on my writing during the times of day when I’m likely to be the most focused and creative (e.g., morning people write first thing in the morning).
  • I take frequent breaks when I write for a long period of time.
  • I don’t harshly criticize myself if I miss a scheduled writing time.
  • I give myself small rewards when I stick to my planned writing schedule.
  • My first drafts may have some errors and I don't try to perfect every paragraph before moving on.
  • When I’m stuck in my writing, I use techniques to help me generate ideas (e.g., returning to my document plan, free-writing, brainstorming, talking out ideas with someone else)
  • I understand that producing a polished document requires revising and working through multiple drafts.
  • I am comfortable sharing drafts with and getting feedback from other people.

Again, notice the items that you rated highly and those you gave a low rating. The higher-rated items point to the strengths you perceive in your writing process, while the lower rated items suggest steps to consider including in your writing process.

[2] From “How to Honestly Assess Your Writing,” by A. Benson Brown, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Academic Coaching & Writing LLC. Adapted with permission.

Download this self-assessment

To access a Word version of this post, please click on Assess Yourself as a Writer. If you’d like information or assistance with any of the skills or processes noted in these exercises, please contact the Writing Centre so that we may assist you!


Benson Brown, A. (2015, April 23). How to honestly assess your writing. Academic Writing Blog.