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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Writing process


The process of writing an essay incorporates a number of elements: analysing the task, research, developing an organised structure through mind mapping, writing a first draft, revising and rewriting.

Planning is critical to the success of your essay. It helps guide your writing; allows you to focus on your topic and shapes the direction of your research.

The process generally follows the steps in the diagram below but there is overlap between stages and at times you will return to a previous stage as you refine and focus your argument.

Planning process

Analyse your topic.
  • look at assignment brief instructions for focus
  • research directions and structure
Brainstorm the topic to
  • bring all ideas together
  • start with what you already know
Research the gaps
  • general reading
  • note-taking
  • develop information
Plan a coherent structure
  • brainstorm ideas. What do you already know?
  • select and evaluate evidence from reading
  • create a mindmap
  • organise your research and ideas
Write and rewrite
  • draft
  • review the topic
  • redraft
  • proofread

Roll over each process square in the diagram to reveal more detail.

Your first written draft will generally shape your essay. Look back at the essay topic; have you responded to all the elements you identified as important? Does the essay ‘flow’? Are your points relevant and do they contribute to your overall argument? You may ask for feedback from someone else as well. Redraft and refine your essay through critical editing.

Finally, proofread for punctuation and grammar errors. Confirm that your referencing and citations are correct before submitting your essay.

For more information, visit the Essay planning tutorial.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a visual representation of the focus and structure of a task. The advantage of creating and developing a mind map is that it gives you a holistic view of the task and helps you identify relationships between ideas.

There are three stages in the process.

Stage 1: The free-thinking (brainstorming) stage. At this stage, all ideas are relevant.
Stage 2: The identification stage (initial mind mapping). This stage is where you identify and clarify relationships between ideas and discard anything outside of your focus.
Stage 3: The grouping and organising stage (final mind mapping). In this part of the process, group your ideas into logical categories and, in doing so, build the structure of your assignment. This stage will also idenfify any gaps in your research.

Look at Stage 1 of the mind mapping process. Click on the buttons to explore the other stages

Stage 1:The free-thinking (brainstorming) stage. At this stage, all ideas are relevant.