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Writing Resources

This guide contains all of the ASC's writing resources. If you do not see a topic, suggest it through the suggestion box on the Writing home page.

Getting Started with Writing

Prewriting Tutorial


Learn about steps to take before writing a paper to make the process smoother.

Academic Writer

© 2023 American Psychological Association.

Mechanics Drive In

Mechanics Drive-In: Building Strong Writing icon- sign saying never give up


Wednesday 4:00 p.m. 

The Mechanics Drive-In will take the mystery out of academic writing in a supportive small group setting. Through guided practice and discussion, students will develop an understanding of the academic writing process. Students will practice the structures of academic writing, including but not limited to sentence structure, transitions, paragraph and section development, and building a thesis statement. 

Writing Process: Tips for Success

Some Prewriting Strategies

Thinking: Read the assignment and think about the requirements. What do you need to know? Do you have questions? Are there areas of the topic you want to explore further? Thinking is a critical first step to begin to narrow down your topic and decide what you want to write about specifically.

Questioning: Goes hand-in-hand with thinking. If your topic is Academic Success, then you may have some of the following questions:

  • How do I define academic success?
  • How do others define academic success?
  • Are there different types of academic success?

Questioning helps you begin to generate interest about a specific topic and allows you to begin to see what areas to explore further.

Freewriting: Is a great way to get all initial ideas out on a page. Ignore your internal editor at this stage and just freewrite all ideas without focusing on grammar, spelling, and organization—that will come later.

Listing: If freewriting is difficult for you, then listing may be the way to go. With listing, write down any information that may be pertinent to the topic. You do not need to be the list in any particular order at first. A next step would be to begin to group pieces of the list that you feel are logically related.

Clustering/Mapping: Clustering or Mapping is a great way to prewrite for the visual learner. This is also another way to use the listing technique above to help you begin to find how the list pieces are logically related. To cluster, start with the main topic and then branch off with sub-topics and supporting details for the sub-topics. See the cluster that illustrates the writing process below.









Outlining: Is related to both listing and clustering and can be a great way to continue to organize thoughts after one or both of these techniques or you may move from thinking/questioning or even from freewriting to this technique. Outlining allows you to see the organization of the paper and to begin to build the structure of the paper. Review the Outlining guide right below this page (use tabs on the left) for more information.

Some Writing Strategies

  • Use one or more of the prewriting strategies to help organize your ideas.
  • Make sure you understand all paper requirements including any APA style or research requirements.
    • For more information on how to find pertinent research, see the Library guide, Research Process.
    • Sign up for an Academic Writer account to assist with APA Style and academic writing.
    • Sign up for a Grammarly account to assist with grammar and sentence structure as you write.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to write, read (both outside sources and what you have written), and revise. Writing is an iterative process best done in several sittings, not all at once.
  • Be aware of resources such as Ask a Coach and coaching to assist you as you write.
  • Once you complete a draft take some time away from it (at least 12 hours if possible) to refresh and view the paper with a new set of eyes.
  • When you come back to your draft read the entire paper aloud to assist in catching any awkward wording, unclear areas, underdeveloped ideas, etc.
  • Double-check all assignment requirements one last time before submitting.

Some Strategies to Accept and Apply Feedback

  • Read through and/or listen to all feedback from your faculty member, coach, etc.
  • Ask questions about any unclear areas to ensure you know exactly what is expected and what you need to do to apply the feedback.
    • For example, you may use the comment feature on Microsoft word and ask a question. You may send an email with questions or ask the questions in the next meeting.
  • Find any patterns or recurring issues and work on those areas first.
  • If you have a recurring area for improvement such as paragraph development or paraphrasing and you are unsure how to develop those skills, schedule a coaching session.
  • Go back through your document to ensure you have addressed or asked questions about all feedback.
  • Make a list of common areas of improvement that are mentioned in feedback and check for them in each assignment. Add new areas each time you receive feedback to make a develop a revision list.


When revising, use a similar funnel approach as when writing and start with the big picture then end with smaller details.

  • First, start with the big picture by looking at the following:
    • Is the original purpose of the assignment fulfilled?
    • Does the writing cover required material?
    • Does the structure fit the assignment parameters?
      • For example, have you synthesized, analyzed, and cited scholarly sources for a research paper?
    • Is your sense of authority on the topic clear?
  • Next, focus on development by looking at the following:
    • Does the main idea (thesis) have enough supporting material
    • Does the supporting material relate directly to your thesis?
  • Once you’ve looked at development, focus on structure by looking at the following:
    • Can your thesis be traced throughout your writing?
    • Do all paragraphs link to your thesis?
    • Do individual paragraphs have one main idea per paragraph?
    • Do paragraphs have clear topic sentences and wrap up sentences?
      • For more help on paragraph development, see the MEAL Plan guide.
  • Finally, focus on sentence structure (most narrow) by looking at the following:
    • Are sentences clear and concise?
    • Does the word order in sentences seem logical?
    • Are there repetitive words?
    • If so, what synonyms can you use to replace the word?
      • Tip: Key words such as your topic can be repeated, descriptive words should not be overused. Grammarly will flag overused words so you can catch them more easily.
    • Do you use the same verb tense throughout?
    • Use past tense when writing about literature (e.g., Smith (2019) stated).

Use the steps above to develop a process that works for you to review your document. This process may be done in several “shifts,” which is recommended to avoid getting tired and not catching issues. If you need assistance with developing a revision process that works for you, sign up for an individual session with a writing coach by using the ASC Chat (hours listed on the left of this page).

Fine-tuning through editing and proofreading comes after revising.

For specific strategies on editing and proofreading, see, “Helpful Tips to Edit and Proofread” on the Editing Resources page.


Understanding Audience

The purpose of writing is to communicate with readers. The readers are the audience. Considering the needs, interests, and expectations of the audience can assist the writer in conveying a written message in an effective form.

Here are some important questions to consider about the audience: 

  • Why will or why should an audience be interested in the topic?

  • What expectations does the audience have?

  • What does the audience already know about the topic?

  • What will the audience need to know about the topic? 

  • What should be gained from the text?

Considering the needs and interests of the intended audience throughout the writing process increases the likelihood of achieving the desired response from the audience.


*Please visit our Audience page for more information on this topic.*

Finding Your Audience

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