Writing Process and Identity

In “Why Technology Matters to Writers: A Cyberwriter’s Tale” Jim Porter narratives his experience using various technologies to assist in writing throughout his lifetime. Porter claims that technology matters because whatever  the tool, it influences the product and process. Humans and technology should not be seen as binary, therefore Porter makes the argument that is this the day of the cyborg and technology is apart of most human interactions. Technology betters society and humankind and is an inescapable process; technology ascends beyond the word computer because it is environment will possibilities, complexity, and variations that betters society.

I am not on Facebook or Instagram but I am Twitter and Reddit constantly. I live in front of my computer. Everything is online and with work, social, personal, and cultural I am online more than anything else. I am very much molded from my online and writing experiences. I have my own process and I even have my own rituals, patterns, procedures, and preferred writing space.

In “Chronotopic Lamination: Tracing the Contours of Literate Activity” Paul Prior and Jody Shipka research peoples’ the environment selecting and structuring writing practices. People in the study were asked to draw an autobiographical picture of their writing process and write about their feelings about writing in general as well as in relation to their personalized writing environment. Then they were asked to write about their regulated patterns of attention and writing actions within said environment making a connection to the social and cultural practices and literary activity. The research concluded that writers strategies for writing varied depending on tasks, lives, work, personalities, and their preferred place. It was analyzed that people organize their writing spaces conducive to their learning needs with three conscious and unconscious factors. First,  social and collective motives of education; industry; labor; historical development of race, genre, sexuality, and nationality. Second, operations with unconscious goals/ ideology such as religion, science, and law. Finally, personal motivation and purpose of writing.

I do most of my writing in cafes- the same two. With the loud background music and the constant flow of caffeine, it keeps in motivated. I cannot work in my apartment or room because I get extremely distracted and start doing other things. I sit in the same spot and lay out all my materials for the compositing process with a to do checklist. Sometimes I put on my head phones and listen to ambient music. My process allows me to have steps and order of operations that help me with the extrinsic process.

The metacognitive activity of composing and writing is interesting. I began to take notice more of my own process.

Questions I have asked myself about the process:

  1. Where do I consistently compose?
  2. Am I sitting or laying?
  3. Do I set up or clean up my area first? Why?
  4. Does my writing environment reflect my process of thinking or writing?
  5. What feels natural and what feels forced?
  6. How does my process benefit the outcome?

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3 comments on “Writing Process and Identity

  1. I really like these questions you’ve posed, and I think they’re helpful for us to all think about. Here are my answers:
    1) Part of my problem with writing is that I *don’t * consistently compose. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that my personal, non-academic writing is practically non-existent. I only write when school or social situations force me to. When I do write, it’s either at school or at my house. I could never do any productive work at a coffee shop – I’m a pathological people watcher!
    2) I’m usually sitting, but in moments of extreme laziness I’ll write in bed (I really don’t recommend this.)
    3) I always clean up my space before writing so that I can delay the chore of writing as much as possible: it’s simply another excuse to procrastinate.
    4) (I think this is the most fascinating of all the questions.) I’ve never considered this question. I would say yes – my environment is usually clean, clear, and blank – much like my mind when I’m attempting to write for school.
    5) It’s most natural for me to write outlines and flowcharts of my ideas once they’ve emerged on paper; however, brainstorm activities for the pre-writing process have always felt awkward for me.
    6) In all honestly, if I were to take my writing more seriously, I would make some drastic changes to my writing process. I would fight my tendency to procrastinate and I would try to create multiple drafts of my work.

    As I said, I think these are awesome questions. These would be great questions to ask our own writing students. Perhaps students and teachers could come together and share their answers as a class, reinforcing the concepts of classroom community.

  2. Indeed, your meta questions are great! This is always something I have my students do whenever we happen to be talking about “process,” usually toward the beginning of the semester. It’s always surprising to me to learn how many students never ever thought about these things before. As a fiction writer (and dilatant songwriter, playwright and quasi-poet), I have spent years looking into my process, my process, my process. Here’s the rub — although I certainly have patterns that are the same or similar from writing task to writing task, my process is ALWAYS different from task to task. Here’s something that I have found out about myself recently: it is far “easier” for me to write essays than stories. This would be ironic if I didn’t happen to be a scholar as well, but I resent it. It makes me mad, because I wish I could just pour out the fiction, like some of my MFA colleagues. But, alas, I can produce more essays with more pages more quickly than any sort of fiction writing. There may be a deep lesson in this for me, but I am not ready to take it to heart.

  3. Hey Rachel,

    Like everyone else, I love the questions that you pose towards the end of your post. It has definitely gotten me to reflect more on my own writing process. I notice myself constantly composing in different environments every time: cafes, parks, Ocean Beach, and even church parking lots (my parents are very Catholic and involved with our church and I’m their ride for the alter server meetings). I barely ever write at home because everything there distracts me: my parents, neighbors, puppy, the list goes on. I’m usually sitting as I write, but I always take 15 minute breaks to pace around and banter with myself about whatever I’m writing.

    To be completely honest, I can’t always tell when my writing feels natural or forced. I feel like every writing experience I have is a blend between the two. It’s easy for me to get my thoughts on paper, but I constantly find myself questioning how I came to those ideas.

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