Oct 14 2013

Runciman on Writing – Reading Response

Published by under Reading Responses

In his essay Fun?, Lex Runciman examines existing scholarship on writing and ponders the focus on difficulty and frustration as opposed to examination of the positive and rewarding parts of the writing process. On page 201, Runciman discusses Muriel Harris’s article “The Composing Behaviors of One- and Multi-Draft Writers”, where Harris concludes that the students who write one draft as a result of procrastination are efficient, and even effective writers.

I would like to stop and reflect briefly on my own process as a one-drafter (at times). For classes that don’t require peer review sessions or second draft submissions, it is easy to fall prey to procrastination and to write a draft last-minute. One particular class last semester received almost all one-draft pieces (with the exception of the final essay), but I still succeeded and learned a lot from the class. I found during this and later experiences that the physical adrenaline from urgency actually forced me to focus my thoughts quicker, leading to more concise, even more eloquent essays. I still enjoyed writing for the class, but I was forced to do this work in a tight time frame. It was certainly stressful, but I still enjoyed the challenge. In contrast to Harris’s example, my earliest college experience with continual paper procrastination still existed in a context of enjoyment. Perhaps it was the subject, but I’m not sure why I experienced enjoyment as a result of procrastination. One possibility might be that the result of procrastination (i.e. focused thoughts and ideas) led to “accurate phrasing” and “accurate reader response” (204-5).

Runciman’s conclusion is that “student writers need to recognize such feelings (the self-rewarding feeling of writing) as their own, or at least potentially their own” (205). This, I think, begins with the mindset that not every piece of writing will be perfect; as William Stafford says in A Way of Writing, “most of what I write… will not amount to much” (232). Once the student writer accepts that perfection on a first, second, third or even fourth draft is improbable (even impossible), then they are freed to write their hearts and souls and to jot down the things that the filters of proper grammar and structure have a way of sucking out of younger writers. After going through the process with a piece of writing that they like, they are better-prepared to claim the feelings that all writers should feel about their best/some of their work.

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