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"Writing process" is a pedagogical term from the 1990s to describe the life cycle of written works in a way that encourages composition students to see writing as an ongoing process from conception to birth. It asserts that all writing serves a purpose, and that most writing passes through several clear steps. It was part of the general whole language approach, championed most prominently in Australia, New Zealand and the United States K-12 educational system.

Generally the writing process is seen as consisting of five steps:

  1. Pre-writing: planning, research, outlining, diagramming, storyboarding or clustering
  2. Draft: initial composition in prose form
  3. Revision: review, modification and organization (by the writer)
  4. Editing: proofreading for clarity, conventions, style (preferably by another writer)
  5. Publishing: performance, printing or distribution of written material

The instructional theory behind the model is similar to new product development and life cycle theory, adapted to written works. By breaking the writing cycle into discrete stages and focusing on strategies at each stage, it was hoped that writers would develop an appreciation for the process of seeing an idea through to successful completion in a logical way. Rather than presenting written works as divine acts of genius which emerge fully formed, they are shown as the logical fruit of several distinct and learnable skills.

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