How to Learn to Write Well

Using Pre-Writing Eases the Job

Many times we have assignments in life where we have to write, to put words to paper. Knowing how to pre-write is a step that can save you a great deal of time, effort and energy.

Think about this for a minute.

Why does it seem that some people can take writing job- no matter if it's an email, a report, a memo, or even sometimes a crucial letter, and seem to make it child's play? While others, perhaps you and me, seem to struggle for a long time with the whole concept?

One possible reason: Because people who are successful at writing tend to plan out BEFORE what they want to write, before actually writing. Many people refer to this skill or concept as Prewriting This consists of the actual planning, in addition to the physical pre writing itself.

Most of the time pre-writing itself does not need to be an ordeal.

When you want to be a successful writer it is good to take some time to plan FIRST. Things you can muse about or think on ahead of time include:

-How do I make myself understood in a clear, specific way using good grammar, spelling and correct English?

-How can I put the different parts of my writing together the best way?

-In what way can I arrange the different parts in a way that is going to be logical and make sense to the reader?

-What is my main Idea?

-How can I develop points and progress step by step to prove and support my main idea?

-What are the sub ideas, or sub topics that I want to discuss and explore?

There are a host of issues and concepts that you can explore using pre writing, and these are but a few of some of the important things. As you learn and grow as a writer you will develop your own steps and learn how to fit the pre writing process best to YOU and your style, your approach and your personality.

Whatever you do, as much as possible do not hurry or rush the process. Pre writing is often using just a page or two of notes and outlines, it does not have to be like "War and Peace" in length.

One writer puts it this way: "you can't take and construct a house before you get the supplies to build it, or before the plans arrive at the home-site. You can't rush good writing, either " Put another way, your writing will be high quality if you take the time to create a good structure for your writing.

Creating a writing sample of high quality does not just occur, you have to plan and create it. High quality writing comes from the choices the writer makes and from step by step planning.

One part of pre writing is making an outline for the task. An outline is not inflexible; you can change and adjust your outline as you go along. An outline is a tool to help you work through the process of constructing and building your writing sample. It's a way to organize your thoughts, and provide a natural flow to your writing task.

If you start to get off task or away from your subject, it will become evident as you compare your pre writing outline as you work on the project. This is useful to prevent having to totally re write your document when you are finished.

By making an outline especially for a long writing job, you can find out ahead of time what material or information you will need in gathering information. No matter if your writing task is easy, or one with a lot of depth and complex, writing an outline will help you in your quest.

As you construct your outline make sure that you allow for a list of subjects or topics. In your list, make sure that you have enough to cover the subject matter you are writing about.

It's a balance, you have to make your outline specific enough to explore the subject, without trying to cover areas you cant explore in the time or space you have for your project.

There are a number of different Outline Types:


This type of outline is just what it says: INFORMAL. Think of a statement or a single sentence that sums up what you are writing about. This is called the Foundation Sentence. Then, write down short phrases or words that can serve to point you in the right area or as reminders as you write. This is a good point to brainstorm and write down all the related ideas to your main theme.

After you sit and write down as many ideas and sub ideas that you can, now is the time to put them in a order that seems logical to your flow of thought. A good point to remember: If you want to discuss something, you have to tell people what it is about and describe it first before you try and discuss it.

Even for documents that are long, or long reports, using an outline of the informal style can still be used effectively. Think of an informal outline as a work in progress, or a tentative one. One that is very open to change, something very flexible.


After you have done an informal outline, making an outline that is more exact and formal is one of the next steps. A typical Formal Outline has many of these steps. Notice the first steps are the same for both Informal Outlines, and in ways they intersect and overlap.

Steps are:

  1. Construct a base or Foundation Sentence for your writing assignment.
  2. Make an Informal Outline
  3. Consider and Brainstorm your subject, topic or main Idea.
  4. Gather your material and all needed information for your writing assignment.

Next, set down your outline into headings, sub headings and ideas. You can find a guide of how to specifically construct a formal outline on the Internet, or at your local library.

That's it. Now you are ready to WRITE.