The Writing Process and a Sample Schedule

The Three-Step Process

Many of you probably already have a three-step process: procrastinate, procrastinate more, and write. I’d urge you to use a different one.

1. Brainstorm

You’ll start by brainstorming topics. Once you choose one, you’ll do another brainstorm to unpack your topic. You’ll generate a lot of your raw material at this stage.

2. Draft

You’ll herd your ideas into paragraphs and put them down on paper. At this stage, you shouldn’t be worried about making your essay good. You should just worry about making it exist.

3. Revise

Rewriting is the essence of writing. Almost nobody gets it right on the first draft, or even the second. You should expect to revise your personal statement many times, which brings us to…

Expectations

“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter,” the variously attributed line goes. “I didn’t have time to write you a short one.”

Writing succinctly takes time. Why? Because you have to write a long letter first and then lop it down to size. Although your personal statement will be less than a thousand words, you should expect to sweat for each one of them. Give yourself a bare minimum of two weeks, and preferably much more time still.

Sample Timetable

  • Brainstorm: 3 days.
  • First draft: 3 days.
  • Show draft to someone else. Reset. 2 days.
  • Reread. Second draft: 3 days.
  • Show draft to someone else. Reset. 2 days.
  • Reread. Third draft: 3 days.
  • Show draft to someone else. Reset. 2 days.
  • Reread. Fourth draft: 3 days.
  • Show draft to someone else. Reset. 2 days.
  • Reread. Fifth draft: 3 days.
  • First and second proofread: 1 day.
  • Reset. 1 day.
  • Third and fourth proofread: 1 day.
  • Reset. 1 day.
  • Final check and proofread: 1 day.

Total: 1 month.

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