Perhaps the most important lesson a novice writer can learn is that writing is a process--a process containing numerous tasks, each of which has its own criteria for successful performance. The following list illustrates the sorts of tasks involved in a 10-page research paper:
This list presents the tasks linearly for convenience. In reality, of course, they do not occur so neatly. The process is recursive: it is likely that you will invent throughout, and most of us find it hard to avoid rewriting even when we are sketching a preliminary draft. It is probably better to think of the three stages--prewriting, writing, and rewriting--as strands in a rope rather than box cars on a train.