the writing process except the last
and by confronting studentswith models of good writing by well-known writers without evermentioning the messy process that leads to clarity." And Shaughnessyurges that such practices should be changed: that "the compositioncourse should be the place where the writer not only writes but experi-ences in a conscious, orderly way the stages of the composing processitself" (79-81).Until that final sentence, Shaughnessy's words reflect what we mightagree is the properly complex nature of writing. But then we get to thestudents' perceiving
stages of the composing process" in "a
way." Since there is no single, orderly writing process (indeed, Shaughnessy's point in the previous paragraph is that stu-
dents must be helped to see that writing is less orderly and
straightforward than they think it is), it seems as if the pedagogical
motive to help students understand is beginning to cause
Shaughnessy problems. And soon she is promoting a linear, three-stage version of what she calls "steps in the composing process": "Getting the thought," "Getting the thought down," and "Readying thestatement for other eyes" (81-82). As a scholar, that
Shaughnessy recognized that composition is complex, chaotic, messy; butas a teacher of writing she faced the need to simplify complexity into aform useful to students.
This problem, I think, is one that you can see operating in most texts
onyour bookshelf and most lesson outlines in your files. Mike Rose writesabout it in "Sophisticated, Ineffective Books": "text authors are forced toreduce the multiplicity of composing options to a manageable number, andconvert multidirectional possibilities to a set of rules or patterns ordiagrams or lists"
Douglas Park discusses the problem from adifferent perspective in "Theories and Expectations." Put simply, theoryand classroom practice are different things. Theory, Park writes, "seeks tocreate analytic maps and models of all that takes place in writing.Pedagogy seeks to stimulate, to liberate, to exercise the powers of synthesis and creation" (CE [Sept. 1979], 51).Classroom practice may be very different from composition theory,butthey really cannot be separated without doing great harm to com-position teaching. "Without the perspective that theory provides," AnnE. Berthoff writes, "there is no way of maintaining a genuinelycritical attitude towards assignments and courses. Without theory,practice can become cut and dried.
.. " ("
Method: Metaphors, Models, andMaxims,"
[Montclair NJ: Boynton/Cook,1981], 3). Similarly, Douglas Park feels that classroom practice "mustdraw on the analytic understanding provided by theory. Without the
sophistication, wisdom, humility that the analytic understanding can
create, pedagogy can go, and has gone, terribly astray"
To avoid suchmisdirected classroom practice, writing teachers and researchers need tofind ways to make texts and teaching approaches do justice to thecomplexity of writing.Trying to do this, of course, means confronting some very difficultquestions. Lisa Ede poses some of these in "The Composing Process:What We Know/What We Tell Our Students":How can we teach a complex process without over-simplifying? What is the difference between simplify-ing and oversimplifying? How do we teach whatseems to be a non-linear, recursive, hierarchically or-dered process within the very linear time constraintsof the number of minutes in a classroom period, thenumber of sessions in a term?
And to those questions, I would add this one. How can wemediate between the dynamic complexity of the writing process and theunderstanding, prior writing experiences, and motivations of Studentsin introductory writing courses?Clearly, I could not answer all those questions in this article, even if I thoughtthat I had all the answers. But I would like to suggest one way to helpstudents of limited writing experience develop a usable sense of, the writingprocess. This approach is to clarify the terms we use when
we think aboutwriting and when we talk with students about writing
so that we emphasize that the complex cognitive and physical behaviors of the
are different from the
motives or intentions
that guide people as they work on a writing project.To be more specific, I would like to suggest that terms like "pre-writing," "writing," and "re-writing" do not indicate separate stages in thewriting process, though they may be useful ways to refer to
consciousintentions a person has at various stages in a writing project.
Actually, Ithink those terms are inherently flawed (since they seem to dividesomething called "writing" from other things, fore and aft, that are notwriting) (see Richard Gebhardt, "The Writing Process: Core of the WritingProgram,"
[Spring 1980], 19-22),
and I preferto use the terms "generating and focusing," "drafting," and "revising."But, whatever specific terms we use in our teaching, we should try tokeep in mind that linear designations of "stages" or "steps" or "phasesrefer to the motives or intentions of writers as they