Craig Branham (branhacc@SLUVCA.SLU.EDU)
Sun, 21 Jul 1996 11:50:58 -0600

On Saturday, July 20, I was Crumped with:

> I use freewriting *as* my writing process.
> OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but only slight. But about half the
> writing I do happens on lists, newsgroups, and MOOs. And I don't plot these
> things in advance or revise them to within an inch of their lives. So I
> want to suggest that when we talk about 'writing process' we're not talking
> about a singular sort of thing. The writing process transmogrifies with the

I don't want to cause any confusion with terms. By "the
writing process" I mean "the process of writing" which is not
a singular sort of thing. To avoid further confusion, when I talk about
freewriting I mean the exercise of quickly jettisoning of ideas with no
attention to structure, grammar, spelling, etc. to get the blood
flowing, as it were. Since your notes mostly make sense to me, I suspect
we're talking about different things (but maybe I'm wrong).

Constance J Ostrowski writes:

> I have to speak for the apparent minority (perhaps a minority of one?):

Of course, we don't know who is lurking out there.

> 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.

Has anyone studied why there are individual differences? It seems like
the last 20 or so years there have been lots of heated words defending
students' rights to do things differently, but has anyone studied the
advantages of one strategy over the other for individuals?

> 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).

The reason that I wrote my original note was that I read an
interview with Stephen Toulmin (_JAC_ 13.2, 1993: 283-309) where Gary
Olson begins by asking Toulmin about his writing process. Toulmin says that
he plans everything out in his head beforehand and writes only when he
knows what he wants to say. I just thought that if I had to do
this, I wouldn't get anything done. No process is right or wrong, as
everyone will gladly affirm, but I just wondered if there was some way to
account for individual differences, other than freedom of choice.

Any thoughts?

Craig B.