I’m sitting down in a chair facing my computer right now typing this sentence with ten other tabs on in the background. I am trying desperately to come up with a topic or line of reasoning for this third response blog. I see that spring training games start next Wednesday and Watchdogs was fucking delayed until June. Pandora is playing everything related to Hans Zimmer. My fingers wonder why I am torturing them by typing aimlessly. But I have something to tell you, fingers.
It’s not pointless.
I have a process I try to adhere to. Note the keyword try.
Oh shut up, Yoda.
I’m sorry, I’ve always wanted to type that in an assignment.
I suppose you could say it is a part of my writing process. In fact, that is exactly what it is, big stars for you.
My fingers fear that they’ll be pounded into dust long before I come up with any solid line of reasoning for this post. It’s actually a part of my pre-writing process. The weird sort of pre-writing that involves writing. So strange.
It’s strange because out of all the methods I’ve used over my academic writing career, this is what I have stuck with. Process in writing is different with each writer. What makes me tick and put finger to key does not do the same for everyone else. My process clearly is not the only “right” method because no process is.
So if there is no right process, how can it be taught?
One must write.
It is that simple, but it is also not easy.
Process is hard to teach, even though it is so important according to Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process not Product”:
What is the process we should teach?… How do you motivate your student to pass through this process, perhaps even pass through it again and again on the same piece of writing? (Murray 4, 5)
Good process requires good motivation and instruction. Process is something we as writers control as it is inherent to ourselves. The example I started with in the beginning of the post may be like so many other processes, but it is not necessarily the same.
The reason process seems so hard to teach is because, well, it must be because we as students and teachers are only allowed to see the end product of someone’s creation with rare exceptions. We know Shakespeare produced great works that forever shaped the English language, but no one really knows how he went about it. No one really knows what his process was.
Sure we were told as students that there are usually three stages in writing: pre-writing, writing writing, and rewriting. Part of the pre-writing, according to Murray is:
the writer focuses on that subject, spots an audience, chooses a form which may carry his subject to his audience. (Murray 4)
Murray leaves out something important about pre-writing, which I feel is the most important as well. Gathering motivation. His pre-writing guideline may have been implicit in that respect, but I feel it’s something worth addressing since that is where the primary problem lies. It’s by far the hardest to address out of all the concerns about teaching writing process too. Because according to Murray, it’s hard for teachers to do a few specific things:
Shutting up. When you are talking he isn’t writing. And you don’t learn a process by talking about it, but by doing it. (Murray 5)
This requires an act of trust on the teacher’s part and the realization that writing is primarily an internal introspective process. Only the writer can decide when and what to write, the teacher must simply learn to stay out of the way after showing the process of writing. Too much emphasis is placed upon writing to what the teacher wants to see, rather than allowing the student to simply follow the process that best suits them.
By adhering to the process, a specific process, over time, then a student can truly find out how he or she writes. Steps of good process can be taught by teachers, but process solely lays in the hands of the writers. A teacher should allow the students to find their own truths and methods to writing, otherwise they’re not really writing.
Now if you excuse me, I have more keys to hit and tabs to open.
Question to ponder:
What is the most important step in your writing process?