Assume responsibility for your writing development. Master the intrapersonal competencies prized by employers. Adopt a growth mindset, intellectual openness, metacognition and self-regulation, professionalism and work ethic, and resilience.

Mindset refers to a habitual way of thinking, a mental framework. A person’s mindset is grounded in a cluster of beliefs, dispositions, and thoughts about something. Over time, those thought patterns shape how we feel, think, and act–and what we believe is possible.

The mind is everything. What you think, you become.


Mindset @ Writing Commons explores the importance of your attitude and psyche as a communicator. We encourage you

  • to affirm and invest in yourself;
  • to embrace your potential; and
  • to assume authority over your learning and development as a writer.

Human beings think in narratives, and Mindsets are a way of packaging, interpreting, and responding to narratives. For instance, when a friend launches an entrepreneurial venture, we might say “Wow, Yolanda has such a business mindset.” Or when someone is afraid to travel, go on a roller coaster, or be adventurous, we might say, “Ah, Tony’s afraid of his own shadow.” And then there’s always Eeyore: “He’s just so damned negative!”

In some ways Mindsets function like genres. After all, genres are prepackaged responses to re-occurring situations. When we are communicating via a well known genre, we don’t have to think as much about how to develop, organize or present our ideas. Likewise, if we ascribe to the political mindset of a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, we know the positions of those political parties, and we might rely on those pre-packaged responses to global issues like abortion, gun control, or climate change.

Ultimately, the quality of your texts and your apprenticeship as a writer isn’t your teacher’s responsibility, your school’s responsibility or even the responsibility of your employer. Your mindset drives the writing process. No one–a boss or a teacher or a parent–can force you to achieve your potential as a writer. Well, sure, someone can sit by your chair and whip you every time you try to walk away. But punishments (or, better yet, extrinsic rewards) can only go so far. At a certain point, you (the writer) must assume ownership over your own development. 

Your Mindset, your attitude and psyche, influences how you communicate. You can best meet your potential as a communicator by

Research on Mindset

How the mind works, how people change their minds (persuasion), how people of like-minds cluster together, how people strive for consensus in group situations (group think)–these topics have fascinated researchers across disciplines for generations. Cognitive psychologists, learning theorists, communication researchers, management and leadership specialists have all researched the traits that lead to Mindset.

Researchers have proposed a variety of models to account for how people can break through Mindsets to become more open, growth-orientated, and wiser. The work of Carol S. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford, has been particularly transformative: Dweck’s hypothesis–that people’s attitude about learning (whether they hold a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset) predicts their learning and success in school and work contexts.

In Education for Life and Work, a white paper published by the National Academies of Sciences, the National Research Council leveraged past scholarship concerning personality traits to theorize that three of the big five personality traits play a foundational role in Intrapersonal Competencies:

  1. Intellectual Openness (Openness to Experience)
  2. Work Ethic (Conscientiousness)
  3. Positive core self-evaluation (Neuroticism)

The National Research Council (2012) and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017) are curious about the correlations between intrapersonal competencies (e.g., grit, perseverance, and self-regulation) and learning, retention in school, and professional success (see illustration below):

See Research on Intrapersonal Competencies for a more detailed discussion of research on Mindset and Intrapersonal Competencies.

Mindset @ Writing Commons

Mindset @ Writing Commons puts the spotlight on the aspiring writer. Rather than getting tangled in defining intrapersonal traits and their interrelationships, we aim to focus on the psyche of the writer. We are especially curious about the role of the writer’s emotions, attitudes, personality, behaviors/work ethic, and strategic planning on writing development and writing processes.

  1. Faith in the Writing Process
  2. Growth Mindset
  3. Intellectual Openness
  4. Metacognition & Self-Regulation
  5. Professionalism & Work Ethic
  6. Research on Intrapersonal Competencies
  7. Resilience

Faith in the Writing Process
Trust the force. Trust the generative power of language. Trust your ability to find out what you want to say and how to best say it for your intended audience.

Growth Mindset
Take control of your life and embrace your potential. Understand that good writing is not a natural talent, a gift of one’s birth, DNA or zip code. Understand the benefits of adopting a Growth Mindset rather than a Fixed Mindset.

Intellectual Openness
Be open to new ways of composing (Collaboration, Genre, Information Literacy, Invention, Revision, Invention Mindset, Organization, Research, Rhetoric, Style and Editing).

Metacognition & Self-Regulation
Understand the importance of metacognition and self reflection during writing. Learn to moderate emotions during composing.Master self-regulation strategies to maximize your potential.

Professionalism & Work Ethic
Understand the importance of professionalism and work ethic to success in professional contexts. Learn to work and compose smarter not harder.

Learn strategies for overcoming obstacles and remaining positive in the face of major obstacles. Get back up after getting punched in the face.

Affirm and invest in yourself.
Embrace your potential.
Assume authority over your learning and development as a writer.
Become more productive, articulate, and creative by adopting the attitudes, habits, strategies, and actions of successful communicators as they work to complete writing tasks 

Works Cited

National Association of Colleges and Employers.  (2019). 2019 Job Report. Bethlehem, PA: National Association of Colleges and Employers.

National Research Council of the National Academies. (2012).Education for life and work: Developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century.Washington D.C.: National Academic Press.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017). Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press.

OneDublin.org (2012). “Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education”. Retrieved 3/19/19.

Mindset.com (2019). https://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/index.html

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