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The writing process

Awareness of the writing process makes it easier to write a good assignment.

There are many elements to keep track of when writing an assignment: requirements, deadlines, planning of the process, and the actual writing and submission of the assignment. To get a good writing process, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the deadlines and the requirements for the assignment from the start, and that you plan your writing process. In this way, you will get an overview of when you want to have parts of the assignment completed, so you can make sure that you can achieve it all.

It is normal to experience challenges during the writing process – this can happen both at the beginning, during and right up to the deadline for submission. Here, it is good to know about different exercises and methods that can make it easier to move forward in the process.

On this page, you can find good advice on how to get off to a good start with your written assignment, plan your writing process and finish the assignment.

Get familiar with requirements and deadlines

An academic assignment is assessed on the basis of a number of assessment criteria. You should therefore be familiar with the criteria on which your assignment will ultimately be assessed, at the beginning of your writing process. You can do this by:

  • Familiarise yourself with the learning objectives of your own academic regulations
  • Talk to your supervisor or lecturer about any specific formal requirements or formalities
  • Read about academic norms under scientific proficiency
  • Read more about exam requirements
  • You should also be aware of deadlines for registration for exams and submission as well as practical information about any oral defence of the assignment.

Plan the writing process

You can keep track of your writing process by considering and reflecting on your work processes.

It may be a good idea to consider how you want to execute the writing of the assignment, and whether there are any work processes you want to include. It can also help you to reflect on your process along the way and whether some of your ways of working can be improved. 

By planning your writing process, you can get an overview of the most important tasks during the writing period. For example, include adjustments and editing of texts, feedback from others, ongoing deadlines, and potential empirical data collected. Below, we will provide some specific suggestions for how you can plan a good writing process.

Set aside time to write  You do not need to be inspired before you start writing. Set aside a specific period of time for writing, and then start writing, regardless of whether you are inspired or not. Remember not to set aside the whole day to write but divide your writing into smaller blocks. In this way, you can write when you have planned to and concentrate fully on this. By doing one thing at a time and devoting a period of time to your writing, you will gain better utilisation of your working hours. Otherwise, time will be spent zoning out.
Create a project plan 

When you have to work on a major assignment, for example a bachelor or master's thesis, it is a good idea to work on a project plan so that you can keep track of your assignment process. It is a good idea to draw up a project plan with or in accordance with your supervisor.

You can use an overview of a project plan for large written assignments (PDF - in Danish). The time set aside for each of the individual phases is indicative and can usefully be discussed with your supervisor. 

Use a Logbook 

You can use a logbook to reflect on the process and ask yourself the following questions:  

  • What have I done today? 
  • What do I need to get started with tomorrow?  
  • What is going wrong?  
  • What is going well?  
  • What am I in doubt about?  

In this way, it becomes clear to you how you move forward in the writing of the assignment. This can be motivating for large assignments where the process can get blurry. 

Use a writing partner or group 

You can choose to write your assignment with another student, so you can work together on the assignment, but you may also choose to form a writing group, so you can write your own assignment, but discuss and recieve support from your fellow students. Determine your expectations of collaboration with your writing group or partner, and how you will work. You can also plan fixed deadlines for specific parts of the project. Regardless of whether you choose to write on your own or in groups, you will receive an individual assessment of the assignment.  

Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of writing alone and several together here

Get ongoing feedback 

Feedback on your assignment is useful regardless of when you get it during the process. Feedback on your idea from the very beginning can help to sharpen the focus of the task and problem statement, so you get off to a good start and avoid moving out of a tangent that you would not really want to. Feedback on your text along the way can help you stay focused, structure the content and assess whether something is superfluous or needs more focus – perhaps something is so exciting that your assignment needs to change its focus. However, if you wait until the end of the process to get feedback, it may be too late to change any major, fundamental things in your assignment. However, feedback in the final phase can be used to complete and refine the text. Therefore, make sure to receive feedback regularly from your supervisor, fellow students and others.  

Read more about feedback.   

Read more about supervision

Get off to a good finish with the assignment 

Please reserve plenty of time for the final phase of the work on the assignment. Here, you must ensure that you answer the problem statement, that your assignment is coherent, and that it meets the requirements and formalities. You do this by thoroughly reading and editing the assignment and by receiving feedback from your fellow students. By getting someone else to read your assignment, it will be easier to spot if something is incomprehensible or if there are any omissions in the assignment that you have overlooked yourself. You can also learn more by reading and giving feedback on other people's assignments. Please come up with specific requests for what you would like feedback on.  

Read more about feedback.   

Read more about formalities.

Think and write with the writing

What you write in the context of your assignment has different purposes: something you write to write the actual assignment, and something you write to think or remember.  

In your writing process, you will write in different ways, and you may have to write a lot more than what is included in the final assignment. But it is necessary for the process and for finding out what the most important thing to include is.  

Often, you end up producing and editing text in small increments: you write a few sentences, delete something and write a bit more because you want to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it.  

But it is better to do one thing at a time – it makes your writing more manageable and efficient. 

GOOD ADVICE ON WRITING

Think by writing  

For larger assignments, it is a good idea to use the writing as a tool for thinking. This type of writing is called ‘thinking writing’ and typically takes the form of quick writing, post-its, notes, drawings and the like.  

Thinking writing can improve your writing process, because you will often have more ideas to work with when you force yourself to write down your thoughts. At the same time, you will have more material produced, and you can therefore select the best for your final assignment. Under "Kick-start your writing" further down the page, you can find exercises that you can use when writing your assignment, or if you have been stuck in the writing process. 

Visualise your assignment  

Work on visualising your assignment, for example by drawing a mind map. You can also note parts of your assignment up on several pieces of paper, and you can move them around and try out different compositions.

Read more about the structure of the assignment. 

Produce first, edit afterwards  

It can be difficult to simultaneously relate to what is to be written and how it should be written. Try, therefore, to allow yourself to start writing without having to consider if it sounds good. In that way, you can make sure that you write down the important points that you will then be able to edit, so that they are clearly formulated. This will assist you in making the writing process more manageable, because you do not require too much of yourself at once. 

Make the analysis before you write it  

The analysis is typically the most comprehensive part of the assignment, and it is therefore particularly important that you do the analysis before you write it. This means that you have the object (s) of analysis (e.g. empirical data or artefact) and your highlighters and find key figures, key quotations, etc. Once you have found the key points of the analysis, you can see the sub-analyses, patterns and categories that are to be communicated and which can structure your analysis section.

Read more about how you can build up your analysis 

Make continuous adjustments 

During the writing process, you will move back and forth between thinking writing, text production and editing. During the editing process, you must assess whether some of the text is to be reworded, deleted, added or moved. It is also in this part that the proofreading takes place. The editing typically takes place on several occasions and is a large part of the writing process.  This is where you ensure that the entire assignment structure – the so-called common thread – and the overall argument of the assignment are linked.  

Read more about the structure of the assignment.  

Read more about argumentation. 

Kick-Start your writing 

It can be difficult to start writing; the cursor flashes in the empty document on the screen, and you don't know exactly where to start, so you postpone the writing and do all sorts of other things. But the best way to get started is by writing. Perhaps you should start by writing by hand or drawing instead of sitting at the computer. Try to find a suitable way for you.  

It is also quite normal that you get stuck during the process and find it difficult to write – perhaps you will find an actual writer's block. Here, the cure is also writing. Perhaps start by writing about what is difficult right now, the reason why you have come to a standstill and what you would like to continue writing about. Reflecting on the writing process can actually kick-start it again.  

In the next two fold-out boxes, you will find specific exercises that you can use when you start writing your assignment, or if you have stalled during the writing process. 

Exercise: Nonstop Writing

Nonstop writing is an effective method of writing that you can use in reference to the writing of academic assignments. 

Nonstop writing is quick writing without interruptions, where you use writing as a tool for thinking. It is a method that can help you produce text in a concentrated and effective manner - at any time and without being inspired first. Nonstop writing can be used to:  

  • start writing early in the process. 

  • prevent and overcome writing blocks.  

  • give the text focus.  

  • problem solve during writing. 

Do the Nonstop writing exercise

Nonstop

How do you carry out the exercise?  

  1. Select the topic you want to write about and decide how long you want to do it. You can write about exactly what you want – for example, you can write for a specific section in your assignment, or thoughts about your topic in order to get closer to a problem statement.  

  2. Write in the selected interval at a high tempo. You write in a black field and can therefore not see your text - that is the intention. The purpose is helping you concentrate on producing text without spending time correcting in the text.  

  3. Concentrate on keeping your active, so you don't get stuck. Above the black field, you can see how much time has elapsed since the last keystroke. Avoid the status bar becoming red by writing filler words until you can come up with something relevant – it will come by itself. 

  4. Use the time. You get the most out of the exercise if you write during the entirety of the time period. But if necessary, you can stop the exercise before time.  

  5. When the exercise is over, you must edit your text: Correct typographical errors, make line changes, and correct spelling errors.  

  6. Copy your text, insert it into your paper, and continue writing on it from here.  

What should you write about?  

Normally, your nonstop writing will be about something professional: what to write about, which problem statement you should choose, or how to proceed in a chapter. You can get to know the nonstop method by writing about any topic you just know a little about. In the interactive nonstop exercise you can find a topic yourself, or you can choose one from a list.  

What do you do if you get stuck?  

It is important not to stop the nonstop writing, even though you cannot think of any more to write about. Instead, write about the fact that you have run out of ideas, or try to write the keyword(s) a few times. If you continue to write, ideas will often emerge after some time. Ideas that you would not have gotten if you had interrupted the exercise.  

Try again  

For Some, it is a major challenge to produce text without simultaneously editing it. Try a few times, and see how your text and writing develop. Like everything else, nonstop writing is something you can learn.  

Once you get familiar with the method, you can use it when writing assignments. Create a document in your word processing program, turn off the screen, set an alarm and start writing. You can also do nonstop writing by hand. 

Exercise: Unfold the assignment

The dice method can provide you with a direction, so you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to say with your assignment.  

When you are in the middle of the assignment, the dice method can be a good tool for generating new ideas, producing material for your academic assignment and getting started writing. The dice method is based on the idea that you can study a topic by looking at it from different angles, and it is an effective way to get new ideas and insights. By moving systematically forward and taking one perspective at a time, you can get new ideas and more perspectives on your topic.  

The method sets up six different angles, which you can apply to your topic, and can be used:  

  • To get all the ideas – both good and bad – at an early stage in the work process and in this way get into the topic.  

  • To clarify what the most interesting thing about your topic is, and thus help you make a problem statement.  

  • To get started with descriptive, analytical and argumentative assignment sections.  

  • To provide new ideas or perspectives on a topic if you are stuck.  

  • To give you the opportunity to nuance what you already know, and thus give you new material to work with. 

Do the dice method

Nonstop

 
How do you carry out the exercise?  

The exercise lasts 15-30 minutes, where you can get new ideas and insights on your topic.  

  1. Select a topic.  

  2. Spend 3-6 minutes on each of the six pages of the dice and write down all the things that you think of. 

  3. When the exercise is over, you can edit your text: correct typographical errors, make line changes, and correct spelling errors.  

  4. Copy your text, insert it in the assignment, and continue to write your text. 


See also

Inspiration from others' assignments

Get an overview of Master's thesis titles from your subject, and be inspired by other people's assignments during your writing process.


Be present and stay focussed

Do you find it difficult to put your phone away and get off social media when studying? 

  • Try the Forest app to stay focussed on your work. With the app, you will grow a forest on your screen that will become lusher the longer you work. 

  • The Noisli  app creates atmospheric background sound or static noise to help you stay focussed.