Thinking With Writing

Writing feels very personal to me. I usually write when I'm under pressure or really bothered by something. Writing down these thoughts takes them out of my mind and puts them in a concrete form that I can look at. Once on paper, most of my thoughts make more sense & I can be more objective about them. Puts things into their true perspective.

Recently, I asked my first-year college students to write about their attitudes toward writing. Did they write often? Did they like to write? When did they do it? Why did they do it? For whom? When I read their responses, I was a bit disappointed because all of my students except one said something to the effect that writing was hard for them, that they didn't do it very well, that they didn't like to do it, and that they only wrote in school when they had to for teachers, who graded them. (This last statement seemed to explain a lot about the earlier ones.)

The only exception to this discouraging testimony was Joan, who had stayed out of school for two years and entered my class a little older than her classmates. Joan wrote the paragraph that opens this chapter and, as you can see, valued writing in a different way than the other first-year students. She did not write only to please her teachers. Writing helped her to reflect, to figure things out, and to gain some perspective on thoughts and feelings.

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