Although individual writing processes are vastly different, composition scholarship provides evidence of patterns across disparate writing methodologies. This section identifies and explains some of the most notable patterns of successful compositionists. We suggest that successful compositionist practice some of the following strategies: Return, Revise, Risk, Reject.
Researchers in the field of composition and rhetoric have uncovered important insights regarding effective writing habits. Below are a few of the important insights researchers have discovered regarding how college students and professionals manage writing processes:
- Return: Successful writers often describe their composing strategies as recursive. By recursive, they mean that they engage in a variety of writing strategies in a non-linear manner. For example, they may begin by collaborating with others, then try inventing on their own, then consult authorities and scholars via research, and then return to collaborating.
- Revise – and then revise again: From composition research and scholarship, we know that many students do not plan or revise as much as professional writers.
- Risk – be open-minded about trying new methods: Unsuccessful writers may become trapped in a single composing strategy. For example, they may get stuck researching, thinking they need to read absolutely everything before writing.
- Reject fatalism – embrace learning: Inexperienced students may believe they receive low grades because they weren’t “born writers” when the real truth is that they aren’t really employing the invention, revising, and editing strategies that more successful writers use. Writing well requires patience and practice.
How much do you know about how writers work? Have you ever researched the creative processes of writers? What do you know about ways to manage revision and editing so that you can write an effective document in less time? Perhaps most importantly, have you experimented with different ways to conceptualize and edit ideas?