NOW READING: The Simplest Failsafe Writing Strategy That Works Every Time

The Simplest Failsafe Writing Strategy That Works Every Time

How hard can writing actually be? Very hard, to be honest. It's one of the things that students dread most when faced with the prospect. Even students who consider themselves writers find it difficult, and no one is safe from writer's block. Sometimes, though, all learners need is something like a simple failsafe writing process to get them through the starting gates.

The Write Foundation discusses some of the reasons why so many students hate writing in this article. The solution suggests the kind of simple approach learners need to garner interest in the task:

"Many students approach writing emotionally not understanding that a concrete or right way exists ... find a way for your student to re-connect with writing by breaking it down into bite sized chunks, backing up or slowing down, pinpointing how to bring the essay together. Hold their hand until they shoo you away because their confidence is built."

So, is there such a thing as a failsafe writing strategy everyone can write successfully with? Terry Heick from TeachThought thinks so and we agree with him. In fact, he talks all about it in his article A Writing Strategy That Works For Every Student, Every Time. It's a simple 4-step process that's easy to follow and remember, and that always gets results.

A 4-Step Failsafe Writing Strategy

Terry refers to the 4-step strategy TAPE in his article. It's the perfect prewriting strategy that stands for:

  • Topic: What exactly am I writing about?
  • Audience: Who am I writing for? Who wants or needs to know about this?
  • Purpose: What is this writing supposed to ‘do’? If I do it well, what will I notice? How should it affect my audience?
  • Examples: What examples or exemplary models exist that I can learn from and use to guide my own efforts?


In his article, Terry also points out that writing is just as difficult to teach as it is to do (English teachers, we salute you). With a failsafe writing strategy like this, however, he reminds us that it works as an excellent starting point, but not as a cure-all for every learners' writing blues. From the article:

"In writing, TAPE is simply a way of clarifying what you’re doing before you do it ... it obviously can get way, way more complicated than this, and depending on who you’re teaching writing to and why, you and your students may need to grapple with that complexity."

Regardless, TAPE is a failsafe writing strategy that will get your learners thinking about writing in the correct way. Encourage them to use TAPE in the prewriting phase of practically any writing project to connect to their purpose and get ideas flowing. If you want to know more about it, read Terry's highly informative article on TeachThought.

Critical Thinking Companion