Re: Freewriting

Jeffrey R Galin (galin+@PITT.EDU)
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 11:09:53 -0400

Beth wrote that we should be practicing what we preach more
directly. I'm not so sure I agree, and this is why: Back in the
eighties, Linda Flower and partners did a great deal of work to uncover
how experts write to discover a system of apprenticeship for novice
writers. While I understood the drive to do such work, I find it hightly
problematic. When it come down to it, just about no one learns to do
anything like experts do it. The fact that we are supposed to be
"experts" at our craft of writing suggests that we have spent years
struggling to define what processes work best for each of us. I am
willing to bet that not a single one of us has the same writing process
for the same kinds of work. In fact, I'm willing to bet that each of us
has a repetoir of processes that we use depending on the medium, time
constratins, purposes, audiences, and our moods.

I'm not saying here that we should not try to help our students
by sharing what has worked for us. But I am saying that we should be
helping them try out multiple processes to find the ones that work best
for their particular habits, needs, and abilities.

I wouldn't wish my writing process for my dissertation on anyone.
It is painful, hyper-recursive, and at times down right destructive. ON
the other hand, there are times when I produce lucid prose for smaller
works that imulate a process I wish I could manage in other contexts and
that I would share with students. I have done some of my best work
collaboratively. But with the wrong partner, that too can be a nightmare.

I think we need to think a great deal more before we start
comparing the processes of experts to the processes of novice learners.


\ Jeffrey R. Galin
_/ Department of English
o// University of Pittsburgh
/-/ Pittsburgh, PA 15260
/\/ (412) 624-6506 (W)
|/ (412) 521-1472 (H)
o |\
|< \ (print/digital publishing)
_____/_\__/ (subscribe to WebRights-L)
_/ \___________________________________________________ . . .

On Tue, 23 Jul 1996, Beth W. Baldwin, PhD wrote:

> On Tue, 23 Jul 1996, Jane Lasarenko wrote:
> > I suspect very few of us writing professionals practice what we
> > preach. (It would really be an interesting study to collect our
> > actual practices on the list. I'm not sure what kind of pedagogy
> > we'd end up with from that.) But as professionals, we've already
> > internalized so much of the process and product conventions, we
> > probably don't need to break much of it down. We freewrite (if one
> > ever does), draft, revise, proof, etc. as/when we first take fingers
> > to keyboard.
> While Nick (I think -- forgive me if that's the wrong citation!) doesn't
> feel particularly guilty about practicing what he preaches, I do. I not
> only want to practice what I preach but preach what I practice.
> As Jane suspects that not many of us writing professionals practice what
> we preach, so do I. And like Jane, I think that it would be a fascinating
> and useful study to collect narratives of our writing practices. As a
> matter of fact, I would say that this would be a wonderful project for a
> real-life Rhetnet forum at a future CCCC. Let's imagine that we collect
> these stories and study them, looking for patterns of practice and
> similarites/differences between actual practice and contemporary theories
> about writing instruction. IF we did discover major departures between
> theory and practice, what would we DO about it? Would we recommend
> changes in pedagogical practice? Would we be concerned about our failures
> to practice what we preach or preach what we practice?
> Personally, I chose to change my teaching practice and being preaching
> what I practice.
> Anyway, I think Jane has made a wonderful suggestion. What about this as
> a group project? I think something like this could make us electronic
> rhetors more visible (and more credible) to the established community.
> Beth Baldwin
> University of North Carolina at Greensboro
> Office of Continuing Education