Week Six: Skilled and Unskilled Processes; Authority and Dialect
For this week's class, many of you already will begin to try to locate yourself in the studies by Harris, Sommers, and Perl. Try to be careful of making absolute statements about composing process, as in "I'm an X writer," as if you could write only one way. You may have strong preferences, deeply ingrained habits, etc., but we all agreed in previous weeks that a change of audience and task can make dramatic changes in how we write. When you have finished revising, a long paper (20+ pages), your preferences for single-drafting (so efficient, so productive!) are likely to turn into massive multi-drafting as you try to think all the way around and through a complex problem. And that does not even begin to include the countless copy-editing passes required to weed out the mechanical errors and redundant transition caused by major conceptual revisions, and to reinsert proper transitions where they were now needed. How does that differ from the way you write for your reading responses, which might require only one or two drafts. My responses to your weekly writing have to be "single-drafted." What if I took fourteen months to respond to your writing for 221?
Wouldn't most writers be better off if they had a choice of composing processes rather than being condemned by habit and preference to only one? Can Writing Center tutors encourage writers to experiment with different composing "styles" as a way to remedy problems the writers bring to the Center? I'm not suggesting toying with people's brains and academic lives merely because we can, but offering writers real opportunities to try out new approaches to writing instead of concentrating solely on surface errors. Remember Tony. Look beneath the surface errors of his essay and remember what he has accomplished in life outside his struggling composing process. Click here for help reconstructing who Tony is, when he was writing, and where (New York City, Fall 1975-Spring 1976).