Re: Shop Talk

Constance J Ostrowski (ostroc@RPI.EDU)
Sat, 20 Jul 1996 21:11:53 -0400

I have to speak for the apparent minority (perhaps a minority of one?):
I *never* free-write. *Never*. Not even on e-mail.

Some of my students free-write, having been exposed to it in high school or
earlier; many do not. I suggest it as one possible way to start writing,
but I don't require it, because people's composing processes differ, and
for some of us it's not appropriate. I've tried it, didn't feel comfortable
with it (maybe I didn't inhale enough), and dropped it as a possible
writing strategy for my own use.

What does this say about me as a writing instructor? Don't know, other
than that I recognize that there are lots of different routes to get to
the same destination, and that I don't believe in prescribing any particular
route (especially one that doesn't work for me).

How do I start writing? My process differs, depending on what I'm writing,
why I'm writing, and how crazy my life is at any particular point. I tend
to do a lot of early idea/text formulation in my head, letting the pot
simmer on the back burner. I may jot a few notes down on paper, but do
almost all of my writing at the computer. Once I build up steam I can
write quickly (1-2 pages an hour), but I always edit as I write, looking
at where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.

(Please don't take anything I've said as knocking free-writing: it works
very well for some, many people. But it doesn't work for everyone.)

Connie Ostrowski (alum account)