Pre-writing, in my opinion the most important step in the writing process, is the step in which the writer considers his/her purpose and method of writing by utilizing the following steps:
- Creating/asking questions to be answered.
- Brainstorming ideas.
- Narrowing down ideas and brainstorming further by adding examples.
- Organizing ideas into categories or lists, and ultimately, an outline.
Each of the above steps in the pre-writing process can be done using notes and shorthand without thought to spelling, grammar, and/or technically correct writing conventions. The most important part of pre-writing is not the final product, it is creating a detailed and organized plan for writing the draft.
A draft, on the other hand, formally utilizes complete sentences and complete paragraphs. I always tell my students that if they spend enough time pre-writing and creating a very detailed outline, the rough draft almost writes itself. The rough draft fills in the details and bulk of the skeleton outline. While a rough draft does not necessarily need to be free of all errors (consider revision as another step in the writing process), it is written with a formal structure. The rough draft should have a working thesis statement and the subtopics which support that thesis. Each subtopic (as its own paragraph or section of the paper) should be supported with examples and explanation.