“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 🙂
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.