Monday, May 4, 2009

More Process Writing (I’m Writing to Learn)

I'm still stuck on the writing process question: does the changing nature of text alter the writing process, or does it merely alter how we teach the writing process. Today I grabbed a copy of Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools (by National Writing Project and Carl Nagin) from the bookshelf at work. The following three excerpts (quoted directly from the book) stood out for me.

Excerpt One
The writing process is anything a writer does from the time the idea came until the piece is completed or abandoned. There is no particular order. So it's not effective to teach writing process in a lock-step, rigid manner.
- Donald Graves

Excerpt Two
Most research today supports the view that writing is recursive, that it does not proceed linearly but instead cycles and recycles through subprocesses that can be described this way:

  1. Planning (generating ideas, setting goals and organizing)
  2. Translating (turning plans into written language)
  3. Reviewing (evaluating and revising)

Excerpt Three

A mark of the writing process movement was that it grappled with the messiness of composing itself. Many writers don't know their subject well until they've written a draft. . . As author Tracy Kidder has said, "I write because I don't know what I really think about anything until I get it down on paper."

Perhaps the writing process hasn't changed with technology, but the way we teach it should. I'm flooded with a wave of ideas for modeling the writing process, for explicitly showing how ideas evolve and focus narrows with each piece or revision. As that focus becomes a clearer, language and word choice change. . . I still wonder about what needs to be at the heart of a writing assignment for this process to be authentic?

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