Recursive Writing Process: Everything You Need to Know

This is the process that describes how students revisit their last writing step and make necessary corrections after discovering new facts to perfect their writing. In this process, students follow the steps of writing as they wish and revisit or repeat ideas as they see fit. Recursive writing means students don’t just sit down and follow the steps of the writing process from beginning to finish. It allows them to take the idea of the entire writing process and mix it up to fit their needs.

Some key benefits of a recursive writing process include:

It actually prepares students to move forward: Sometimes, revisiting an earlier stage of writing lets students see the text in a new way. When they revisit an earlier stage, they metaphorically press a pause button. This gives them some time to figure out where they want to go.

It can get students unstuck when writing: Even the most accomplished and successful writers find the entire process slightly intimidating at times. In large part, what helps writers overcome the obstacles is knowing that the writing process is recursive. They can move forward without the pressure of thinking that the first draft they compose needs to be perfect because they know that revisiting is baked into the process.

It makes the difficult parts of writing easier: One of the most difficult things for writers is throwing out the words they worked hard to produce. A recursive writing process makes this thing easier. When writers are willing to discard ideas or words that aren’t working, then revisit and discover new options that make more sense, the entire piece gets better. In this way, revisiting also helps them gain confidence in their own rhetorical skills.

It puts writers in control of their writing: When writers realize that something isn’t working in their writing and they allow themselves to press pause, they’re also giving themselves time to take a break from their work and come back later with new ideas and fresh eyes. This practice lets them take control over the quality of their writing.

Students can use the following strategies to improve a recursive writing process.

Clarifying the purpose: Students should ensure everything in their draft points back to the purpose they want to achieve. It’s a good time to reconsider whether the genre they’re using is a good fit for their specific audience and purpose.

Gathering more information: Most writers unintentionally leave important information out of initial drafts. As students reread, they should consider what else their audience will need to know to find their message effective.

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