17 Focus on the Product

Biatriz Borges

The writing process is a practice that students are taught in school from a young age. From the moment they are able to form sentences and paragraphs, students are taught how to approach a writing prompt effectively to ensure they hit all the major points needed for the desired grade. The critical factor that cannot be ignored in the pedagogy of the writing process, which is taught similarly across school districts, is that students write for a grade; they must produce writing just good enough to pass a class. The practice of the writing process forces students to neglect the product because it places too much emphasis on following a process ingrained into them since elementary school.

Write out your ideas in little bubbles and outline them on your web handout, draft a few times, peer review, edit, revise, and submit. This process is one that students perform over and over again, and it has become almost robotic. Students should be taught to write effectively in a way they feel most confident and that allows them to show themselves in their writing. The product of one’s writing should reflect the writer and the process of writing they create for themselves, not one ingrained into them and their classmates, making them standardized writing machines.

Not only does the writing process remove the writer’s identity from the product, but it also takes too long. Writers focus too much on going through and completing each part of the process, thinking and pre-writing, writing multiple drafts, revising and editing over and over again to finally reach a product that is so bland and mechanical but at least gets the passing grade. Writers and teachers of writing need to get back to the core of writing which is to express oneself and to write with purpose. Writers write to fulfill the stories that live in their imaginations, they write to call their readers to action, and others write to express the emotions they feel but have no one to tell them to. Young writers need to be taught why successful writers write the way they do and why those methods are essential to producing a piece that fulfills their purpose for writing.

When students write with their own purpose, they are more likely to be passionate about their work and complete it. Going through the motions of the writing process walks hand in hand with procrastination, something most, if not all, students have experienced at some point in their education. At the very least, a good writer is one who completes their work well. This outcome is harder to achieve when students are taught to write one way for the rest of their education, just so that they can pass a class and graduate.

“Real writing” or “good writing” is not determined by how long it takes you to write, how much or how little of the writing process you actually follow, or the grade you receive on an assignment you need to complete to pass a class. Writers should be empowered to write how they like, to produce writing that is fulfilling to them and that reflects who they are. So often does the standardized writing process silence voices and shuts out creativity. So often are students essentially taught to despise writing because the writing they need to produce is writing that is not integral to who they are. Writers and teachers of writing alike need to focus on the product they are producing rather than hyperfocus on the process of their writing. Students need not be given boundaries to follow but encouraged to create their own writing process which is effective for the piece they are producing. Students should be taught that good writing reflects their creativity and individuality, but instead, they are taught to write to a standard that removes every ounce of personality from their final product.

 

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Good Ideas About Writing by Biatriz Borges is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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