Writing as process
I have had to do a lot of writing as I've progressed through academia, having returned in 2003, finishing a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication at California State University, East Bay, in 2005; a Master's in Speech Communication at the same institution in 2009; and now in my Ph.D. program in Human Science at Saybrook University. While earning my Master's, I qualified as a Graduate Writing Assistant, one who is qualified to teach writing at the university level as a part of a Writing Across the Curriculum program. But that isn't why you should think I might be able to write.
Writing is a creative process. To write well, one has to like writing.
You can see samples of my writing at my research journal, my blog, and my vegan blog. Some of the essays to be found on the research journal are papers that have actually been submitted as part of the Ph.D. program; I take to heart Colin Robson's idea of a research journal,1 and understand that if such a journal is supposed to provide a sort of "audit trail" of my thinking, then it should be public.
I don't write on the blogs nearly as much as I'd like. It has always been sporadic, but increasingly I'm feeling pressure from my Ph.D. program (I'm working on my dissertation) and I'm doing a lot of reading toward that end. But yes, there are two of them—one is new, as of January 2014 (the older but relevant entries are copied from my regular blog). Still, when I feel I have something to say, usually about current events, but sometimes about my own experience, I'll often pause to write a blog entry. Because I actually need to.
I often use my writing to gather my thoughts. I rarely know how an essay will end before it is written. It is, in fact, a method of inquiry.2 And by writing an essay, I resolve what I'm thinking about in my own head and can put it to rest, freeing my mind to return to what I need to be thinking about.
Writing isn't just a creative process. It is also an exposure of the writer's argument for critical scrutiny.3 That's why when I taught public speaking, I asked my students to submit essays in addition to doing their speeches. So as I write, the reader can see that I back my claims both with sources and reasoning. My conclusions may be radical, but they are considered conclusions, the product of reasoning and evidence.
Which is the kind of writing I prefer to do.
- 1. Colin Robson, Real World Research, 3rd ed. (Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley and Sons, 2011).
- 2. Laurel Richardson and Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre, "Writing: A Method of Inquiry," Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, eds. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), 473-499.
- 3. John C. Bean, Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001).