Re: Freewriting

Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 10:51:04 -0400

Personally, I don't do much freewriting myself anymore, nor do I really do
a lot of the other procedures I teach as "pre-writing" in a fy comp class.
I do spend an awful lot of time talking about revision though, and I
myself practice a lot of revision in just about all the writing I do (with
the exception of e-mail messages, which I suspect is painfully obvious at
times). I also tend to write a while, revise, go back to my notes or just
my brain (I tend not to write out notes of any sort when I write fiction,
but I take lots of nots when I write academi stuff), then write some more,
revise, repeat. It also takes me a long time to write things I'm actually
happy with, a condition that I share with my students that inevitably
disappoints them. But I don't really see this as a situation of "do what
I say, not what I do" or what-have-you for a couple of reasons.

First off, I've been taking writing pretty seriously for a long time now,
which is one of the reasons I'm teaching this stuff (or, as I say
jokingly to my students, why I get the big desk). Just like any other
craft or art or practice, the more experienced you get, the easier it is
to cut corners, go faster, skip a few steps ahead. In other words, I
think pre-writing techniques as they are presented in comp classes assume
that our students are inexperienced writers who see it more as a chore
than a fulfilling act and who frequently get stuck at the very beginning
of the process. And I think those are pretty fair assuptions a lot of
the time.

Second, I always tell students that ultimately, you have to find what
works for you. Whenever I do some sort of pre-writing activity in a
class, I always point out "your actual mileage may vary" and for all
sorts of reasons-- personality I suppose, but also preferences about
activities and experience as a writer and God only knows what else--
different pre-writing strategies work for different people. I see our
job as comp teachers to suggest possibilities for students to explore for

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
*Soon to be at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR*