As noted in Chapter 1.1, the texts that we read do not display individual differences in the approaches of their authors. Nor do they show how different writers feel about writing. Texts may be written with gusto and joy, or with painstaking agony, but this is not apparent from their surface features. Madigan et al. (1996) show this in their study. Here, the essays of psychology students were grouped into three categories (with about thirty essays in each). These were written by students with high, medium or low anxiety about writing. Then, the essays of the high and the low groups were compared. The investigators were unable to find any significant differences in their quality as measured by various measures of syntactic complexity. What they did find, however, from questioning the students at the end of the essay writing session, was that the students who were generally anxious about writing:
1 tended to make more negative comments to themselves as they were writing; and
2 generally viewed writing as an unpleasant and unrewarding activity.
From this, we might well ask how far do feelings such as these slow down or actually prevent writing from occurring?
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