Re: Freewriting

Fred Barton (bartonf@PILOT.MSU.EDU)
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 20:02:34 -0400

It seems to me the common thread that has been running through this
coversation on freewriting is that freewriting--all writing--is an
idiosyncratic activity. Perhaps, then, instead of wondering how anyone gets
through it, or feeling guilty because we can't be as dogmatic as some would
like us to be, we ought to be looking for ways to help students learn to self
monitor their own processes. There is quite a body of research that says
readers who don't learn to self monitor--particularly when having
problems--never learn to be proficient readers. Could something similar be
true for writers?

I wrote just a minute ago that writing is idiosyncratic and that is true. But
it is also not true. Like literature, there are certain commonalities we all
agree on, and then, at some point, the story speaks directly to the individual
reader. Writing, it seems to me, is like that. There are commomly held
community beliefs about writing on which most would agree. They go beyond
spelling and grammar too, ask any holistic scorer. But beyond that, the
writer's unique personality skews the method and the result. Perhaps that's why
we can write about old topics with fresh insight.
Fred Barton
Red Cedar Writing Project
Michigan State University