Essay Writing Processes

To write an essay is to create a piece of work, and as with any kind of creative practice, there are different processes for writing an essay. This (pdf) resource by Marco Pelucci of the Royal Literary Fund lists five kinds of writers:



Most of us are probably a mixture of some or all of the above. While different people may have different processes for writing an essay, if you lack confidence in academic writing you will probably find it easier to follow the structured and orderly process we advise on these pages. This consists of four different stages:

1 The planning stage involves choosing a topic, focusing on the question, and developing the main argument of the essay, before drawing up an outline of the ideas and arguments you plan to discuss.

2 In the researching stage, guided by your essay plan, you look for, examine and analyse the sources that will form the basis of your essay.

3 The writing stage is the point at which you clearly communicate the arguments set out in your essay plan and present and discuss the findings of the research stage.

4 Once you have a draft of the essay, you have reached the reviewing stage, in which you read over your work, evaluate it, and make any necessary changes.

While producing an essay will involve all four of these stages, you will probably find that it doesn’t always follow this order. For example, you probably won’t come up with an essay plan without having first done some preliminary research. The process of writing may lead to some changes in your ideas that require some restructuring of the essay, or even some further research. You will perhaps review and edit your writing piece by piece, rather than leaving it until a first draft is complete. There is no right and wrong way, only that which works for you, and working out which methods are best for you is an important part of the learning process. See also our page An Approach to Writing for Art, Design and Architecture Students.

Next page: choosing a topic