The Rough Writer’s Handbook serves as a student’s guide for navigating the world of academic writing. Whether you feel confident in your writing and just need a refresher on a few points or whether you are really struggling and need help with the entire writing process, this Handbook is here to help you succeed.

This book is laid out in the order a student should follow when writing an academic essay for college. One of the most common reasons students have trouble writing for college is that they simply don’t follow the correct process. Not only will this guide help you to master the art of writing for academic life, but it will also familiarize you with the steps you need to take to become a good academic writer.

word art academic writing
Image Academic Writing Wordle by bnleez licensed under CC BY SA.

We begin by introducing you to the world of academic reading and writing. For many students, the academic world is new in many ways. Consider this section of the book your tour guide to a brand new world. We’ll help you understand the basics of communicating in academic language and help you make the transition mentally from high school to college-level writing.

Second, you’ll be taken through the steps of pre-writing. Just like you might soak a stained shirt before washing to help the stain come out, pre-writing helps to prepare you to write well. Choosing an appropriate topic can seem daunting, but we will teach you some strategies for overcoming that challenge. You’ll notice we’ve included research in this part of the writing process. That’s because good writers will not start writing about a topic until they have a solid grasp of the information first. Unless you are writing a narrative essay about your own life experiences, research is important.

Next, it’s time to start planning and drafting your essay. Good essays begin with a solid outline. Just as you need a map to help you find your way to a new place, you need a map of your essay to create a solid piece of writing.

Once you have your draft in place, it’s time to spruce it up for your instructor. Just as you might clean up your apartment before your significant other visits for the first time, this is your chance to make a good impression. Revision and editing are critical parts of the writing process, and in fact, this is often where the writing shines.

What we’d like you to remember is that writing is a recursive process. It’s not something you just sit down and do. It’s something that takes time. However, if you follow the steps we outline here, you’ll become skilled at crafting solid academic essays.

Learning how to write well is not just a skill for college—it’s a skill for life, too. That’s why we’ve included a helpful section in this handbook for writing outside of college. We’ve included how to write a resume, helpful tips for e-mails, etc.

So, let’s get started!


  • Content created by Dr. Karen Palmer and licensed under CC BY NC SA.


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The RoughWriter's Guide Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Karen Palmer and Dr. Sandi Van Lieu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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