Five Stages of Basic Writing

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By Suparlan *)

People said that writing is just like swimming. Please just jump in to the swimming pool, and then swim as you can swim. Maybe, as a beginner, you will sink like a stone, and then you will try and try to move your own hands, if you will not die because of this. And then, you will train in swimming everyday. You will better in swimming if then you have to take a training program in swimming. Writing is also like riding bicycle. All of it means that you have to practice, not just you entranced in theory. Theory is important, but the most important is practice and practice.

This article is just to give a glance of theory in writing. I do hope that this small theory can be practiced. Do not just stop in theory. Please try to write what whatever your ideas to write. Many ideas are in our life. If you are a teacher, you can write about your subject matter, your schools or your students, etc. If you are a father, you can write about your house, your wife and your children, and many things else to write.

Stages of writing

Hairston (1993: 6) explained the process of writing in five stages: (1) preparing, (2) planning, (3) drafting, (4) incubating, (5) revising, editing, and proofreading. The process of writing can be illustrated in a chart below.


  1. Preparing
    In this stage you consider what you want to write about, using a variety if methods to select and narrow down a topic and generate ideas about it.
  2. Planning
    In this stage you develop your ideas and organize your materials. To do that you may prepare working lists, outlines, summaries, and charts.
  3. Drafting
    In this stage you start to put words down on a page or screen. You may compose one or more drafts, rethinking and reshaping your materials as necessary.
  4. Incubating
    In this stage you give yourself time to let your ideas simmer. Solution or ideas may develop in the unconscious before taking conscious shape.
  5. Revising, editing, and proofreading
    In this stage you review what you have written, revising to make large-scale change in topic, organization, or audience adaptations; editing to make smaller-scale changes in style and readability; and proof reading to read your paper of mechanical problems such as spelling and punctuation errors.


What will we do in every stages of writing? For a simple explanation, I want to show you the table below.

In order to make easier to think what to do in writing, I try to list all activities of the writing process as in the table below.


No. Stages  Activities
1. Preparing
  • Generate ideas as many as you can
  • Consider what you want to write
  • Select the best idea, or the most important idea that you can write
  • Try to determine a title


  • If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it (Toni Morrison)
  • Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.  ~Gene Fowler
 2. Planning
  • Develop the title and prepare the references
  • Outlining the title
  • It is useful to make mind mapping of the title
 3. Drafting
  • Start write word by word based on the outline of the title
  • Compose one or more drafts
  • Rethinking or reshaping the drafts and finish the draft


  • “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart” (William Wordsworth)
 4. Incubating
  • Make the ideas simmer
  • Make a final decision that the draft is ready to finish
 5. Revising, editing, and proofreading
  • Review the final draft
  • It is time maybe we want to revise whatever we want to change the title, organization, etc.
  • Read again and again. Maybe you need a proofreader to read the final touch.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out (Author Unknown)
  • Make sure that there is no spelling and punctuation errors


Some Great Rules of Writing

Some people said that writing has the great rules. Some people said “fuck writing rules”.  As a beginner, it is better to know some rules of writing.

Firstly, do not put statements in the negative form. For a good writing, do not use so many negative forms. It is very important, because we will make a difficult explanation.

Secondly, don’t start sentences with a conjunction. A conjunction is a word that links words, phrases, or clauses, especially a type of coordinating conjunctions, for instance for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (FANBOYS). One again, don’t start sentences with for, and, nor, but, or, and so.

Thirdly, avoid a great deal of repetition. If we always explain the same things in our writing, it means that we are inefficient in using words, so we will make boring to our readers.

Fourthly, never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. This rule is about efficiency in using words and sentences. We have to use the sentences and words effectively and efficiently in our writing.

Fifty, last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague. Cliches (Wikipedia: from French), is a phrase, expression, or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its intended force or novelty.


There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  (Walter Wellesley Smith).  People said that writing is just a second life of our real life. A great writer said also that “Writing, I think, is not apart from living.  Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind (Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957). Writing is a process how to explain about our feeling and thinking in our life. Five stages of writing is a theory on how to practice our writing ability.

*) Website:; E-mail: me [at] suparlan [dot] com.

Depok, December 2008

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