Composition, from the perspective of Writing Studies–is the study of
- Composing, Drafting, or Writing
- The Creative Process
- The Writing Process.
The Composing Process, most generally, refers to how a writer writes–whatever actions or intellectual processes a writer does to get the work done, such as Invention, Writing with Sources, Collaboration, Design, Organization, Revision, Editing.
At times composing seems to be fairly simple. Some rhetorical situations require little planning, research, revising or editing, such as
- a grocery list, a to-do list, a reflection on the day’s activity in a journal
- documents you routinely write, such as the professor’s letter of recommendation, a bosses’ performance appraisal, a ground-water engineer’s contamination report.
Typically, however, composing is challenging. This is especially true
- when you are unfamiliar with the topic, genre, medium, discourse community
- when the thesis/research question/topic is complicated yet needs to be explained simply
- when there is insufficient time to engage in all needed composing strategies, from planning, revision, to editing
- when your are endeavoring to synthesize other’s ideas and research
- when you are hoping to say something substantive
- when your audience or discourse community may be threatened by the rhetor’s message.
As an example of the challenging nature of composing, consider everything you do when you try to write something of value.
To create substantive prose, you
- may need to engage in preliminary research and sustained research.
- may collaborate with others to co-author or critique a text.
- may use images, color, shape, document design, and typography to visually illustrate a thesis
- may use heuristics (prewriting exercises) to overcome writer’s block
- may try different Organizational Schema at the global and local level to assess the most logical organization for any given rhetorical situation
- may edit and revise texts.
How writers compose–the processes they employ for specific writing tasks–is dynamic and contextual. There is no one ideal composing process. Rather, different writing projects call for different approaches to composing.
Because composing is so complex, many models of composing have been proposed. It seems at times there are as many models of composing as there are writers.
Protocol analysis of writers at work (a method that asks writers to speak out loud what they are thinking as they compose) and other research on composing has found writers often engage in Invention, Writing with Sources, Collaboration, Design, Organization, Revision, Editing.