“Each Writer is Unique”

“Each writer is unique,” (Yancey 52) concluded Kathleen Blake Yancey, the Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English at Florida State University. She goes on to add that “each writer is a combination of the collective” (52), but yet each individual one is unique. It’s an obvious statement. Obviously each writer is unique, and yet it doesn’t seem like it gets a whole lot of attention compared to some of the other concepts we’ve looked at so far. I feel when you’re in school asked to do a piece of writing, the teacher isn’t exactly looking for acts of uniqueness. In saying that there may be some teachers that try to examine that element, but I would say most are looking for you to demonstrate a particular skill in your writing. Even Yancey examines this to a certain extent, saying “teachers have shifted from teaching writing through analysis of others’ texts to teaching writing through engaging students in composition itself” (53).

This made me think about workshop writing, something that I am particularly partial too. I came across this website that also appears to be a teaching tool itself. What Is Writing Workshop examines teaching such a concept in the classroom. The website explains that “Writing workshop is a student-centered framework for teaching writing that is based on the idea that students learn to write best when they write frequently, for extended periods of time, on topics of their own choosing” (Mulvahill). Is letting a student write “on topics of their own choosing” (Mulvahill) the same as each writer being unique? I think it is to some extent. Even if the topic is chosen for the student, the way it is understood and analysed is wholly individual and unique. But there still is an element of the “collective” as Yancey mentioned at the beginning. While yes they are unique, we still cannot escape the stories, histories, and processes that have come before.

Writing is paradoxical. Yancey said it perfectly herself, “we write as both individuals and as social beings, and that helping writers mature requires helping them write to others while expressing themselves … its provision both for the social and the conventional and for the individual” (53). Everything we write comes from us, so it’s individual. And everything we write comes from society around us, so it’s social. When we begin to teach writing it’s very much a two way street: we cannot forget the social and we cannot forget the individual. To help our students “mature” and grow as writers they cannot forget these elements.

Ideology is thrown around a lot in this chapter. And as the book addresses and as I’m sure we’re all discovering across our classes is that there is “no ideology-free observation or thought” (Scott 48). And it’s a very true statement. We’re all influenced by things around us whether we know we are or not, and this all ties in directly with writing. Kevin Roozen explains it perfectly (and again, sorry for the long quotes),

“Our identities are the ongoing, continually under-construction product of our participation in a number of engagements, including those from our near and distant pasts and our potential future … writing serves as a key means by which we act with and come to understand the subject matter, the kinds of language, the rhetorical moves, the genres, the media and technologies, and the writing process and practises at play in our various sites of engagement, as well as the beliefs, values, and interests they reflect” (51).

Roozen is absolutely right, our identities are “ongoing”. And since they’re “ongoing” and “under construction” does that mean that our writing is always “ongoing” and “under construction”? Maybe. What I think our writing is doing is help us get across what we understand, and also help us figure out what we don’t understand. All the things that Roozen laid out in this large chunk of text shows just what writing can do for us. Writing is almost like a pair of glasses or a detective hat that we wear to help us figure out life’s mysteries. I found this great scholarly article from Jstor called “Personality and Individual Writing Processes” that covers a lot of what we read about. I figured maybe if someone wanted to write on this subject for a larger project in school than a scholarly article isn’t a bad start.

I couldn’t exactly figure out how to make an article a “multi-modal component”, so hopefully this large button underneath suffices.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog 🙂

Works Cited

Bridgstock, Ruth. “Paradoxical Writing Productivity Tips.” Slideshare, 8 Jul. 2009, www.slideshare.net/C_C_I/paradoxical-writing-productivity-tips-ruth-bridgstock. Accessed 15 Sep. 2019.

Jensen, George H., and John K. DiTiberio. “Personality and Individual Writing Processes.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 35, no. 3, 1984, pp. 285–300. JSTOR, 10.2307/357457

“Kathleen Blake Yancey.” The English Department Florida State University. https://english.fsu.edu/faculty/kathleen-yancey. Accessed 15 Sep. 2019.

Mulvahill, Elizabeth. “What Is Writing Workshop?” We Are Teachers, 19 Apr. 2018. www.weareteachers.com/what-is-writing-workshop/. Accessed 15 Sep. 2019.

Roozen, Kevin. “Concept 2 Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016. 50-52. Print.

Scott, Tony. “Concept 2 Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016. 48-50. Print.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “Concept 2 Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016. 52-54. Print.

Featured Image can be found here.


Melinda Grant
September 16, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Hi Miro. I completely agree with your analysis on Roozen’s section of Naming What We Know. When I read something that I have written ages ago, and by ages I mean anything from many years ago to even four weeks ago when this course began, I am amazed at the comparison of perspective from then versus now. The concept of time seems different, somehow, relative to anything outside the field of writing, to be honest. For example, when I remember a Saturday morning ten years ago, pushing my children on the neighborhood park swing, I recall myself being the same person then that I am today. However, if I go back and read the difference in writing style and expression from then and now, it feels and looks very different. I do agree that writing style and technique is “ongoing” even though nine times out of ten it probably goes unnoticed by the writer.

In regards to Scott’s perspective of there being “no ideology-free observation or thought,” I would have to say I agree with you both. Before our current coursework this semester, I would have most likely disagreed. But, as noted, the threshold concepts have a way of making one think “outside of the box.” Years and years of reading, years and years of social conversations, and years and years of writing culminate to each moment in time when we sit to simply “write.” It seems so profound that as a writer, we are a collaboration of everything we have been witness to; everything we have thought about; everything we have written. Thanks for sharing!

September 17, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Hi Miro,

Man, I love the workshop process too. I’m hoping that I’ll end up running workshops some day *fingers crossed.* However, I’m more partial to creative writing workshops. I hope that, when I’m teaching composition classes, I’ll be able to create assignments/a class culture that allows students to find themselves.

September 18, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Hey Miro! First off, I think you did a great job with your embedded links for this weeks blog post. I really enjoyed the link you posted about writing workshops and I really agree with you on the fact that letting students choose their own topics can offer more unique writing. The writing, such as tone, word choice, or sentence structure, might be similar, but having students choose topics for themselves give them a huge opportunity to relay their identity and ideologies through that writing more easily. It is true that in a lot of English and Writing classes professors have strict guidelines for what the student will right about. I know this is something I hated about my English classes in school. I always wanted to be able to choose my own topics and incorporate different subjects into my writing. During my class, I will incorporate assignments which allow the students to choose their own topics and I am excited to see how students react to this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *