5 writing tips from a grade-school cafeteria

From ‘pre-writing’ to ‘editing,’ these are the steps we probably learned years ago and have forgotten. What a pity.

In his cafeteria, there’s a random banner about The Writing Process. I’m not sure of the banner’s origin, and I’m not sure in which grade they start teaching this stuff (not kindergarten), but I know its writing advice we could all use. I’ve added a few additional thoughts to the outline from the banner.

1. Pre-Writing.

Brainstorm ideas. Grab a piece of paper, head to the white board or get out your iPad, and start getting all your ideas out of your head and into a more manageable format.

• Organize, decide on text structure. What format will your piece be? How long? Will you have sidebars, pull quotes, or infographics to break up the text? Each format has its own flow and requirements—thinking about the end before you begin is a good idea.

Story maps, webs, lists. This is all about the flow of your ideas. How will you present the start, middle, and end of your information? What headings or subheadings will you use along the way? Think of your writing as a GPS system—what cues will you give readers along the way so they will know where they are, and will have a good idea about where you’re taking them.

2. Drafting.

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