Friday, October 12, 2012

The Value of the Writing Process

A participant of a recent course, Sage Robertson, wrote a thank-you note to me. I always appreciate receiving these messages, and this one was especially memorable because he included a memorable learning moment, one that I stress whenever I teach the writing process. In his words:
I wrote down many important points of yours yesterday but I was most inspired by "If you get stuck, it's because you didn't plan enough."
I'm truly glad that Mr. Robertson took that point to heart for two reasons, one concerning his self-development as a writer and the other as a reminder to myself as a writing consultant. 

First, when introducing himself to the class, he said that while he loves reading good writing, he finds writing itself a difficult, painful activity. For this reason, I give him a lot of credit for taking the course in the first place. It shows he is committed to overcoming challenges that can affect his job performance.

Second, his comment is praiseworthy because he focused on an intangible learning moment, a process-related takeaway, something  instructional designers shy from because they fear that learners may find process-related topics to be immeasurable, and therefore, unteachable, while product-related topics are more desirable simply because they are measurable. My 35 years of teaching writing tells me that this thinking is wrong. Using the writing process sensibly goes a longer way than anything else toward improving writing because it instills confidence in writers, provides multiple points of entry into problematic writing assignments, and promotes efficiency throughout the writing task.

Thanks for the note, Sage!