Another cool essay!

One thing about these WAC writers is that you certainly aren’t bored very often. “How to Read Like a Writer” by Mike Bunn is what my triad picked to discuss and, as usual, it’s amazing!

Bunn showed me how to read something through the lenses of a fellow writer. We all know how it feels like to sit in front of the computer for two hours trying to write one measly paragraph, so we understand the choices a writer makes to get his or her point across. In my personal writing, I had already picked up a little on this idea of examing how other writers write so that I could improve my own. What Bunn taught me though were some more questions to ask, like what makes this passage confusing or how would I have written that differently? What I do mostly is examine a work assuming that the writer is better than I am and he or she has all the kinks out already.

Here’s a quote that jumped out at me: “It’s worth thinking about how the published text would be different – maybe even better – if the author had made different choices in the writing because you may be faced with similar choices in your own work.”

Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm  Comments (9)  

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  1. I love this one, too. When I thought I couldn’t write, someone gave me this advice and I started to read differently. Now, we have this great essay to help us think deeply through the process of reading like a writers. You KNOW all the great writers must have done this!

    • Isn’t that cool? I can’t wait to try RLW on the next essay!

  2. Your post is great! I think you made some very good points here. One thing that struck me is where you said: “What Bunn taught me though were some more questions to ask, like what makes this passage confusing or how would I have written that differently?” It makes me think about the idea of writing something and then putting it away for a few hours or days, then coming back to it. This has helped me notice things that I need to change. I am almost able to look at things the way another reader might see them by doing this. I think this is good writing practice. I also like the quote you ended your post with. It is saying that one should always ask themselves how one could have improved what was written, even after it is over and done with. We can learn from our past writings. Very good job with your post. I look forward to talking with you more about this article via our blogs. 🙂

    • You had some good points too! Especially the second bit about how students learned RLW. I haven’t tried it myself but I can certainly see the advantages. I’ll have to see what happens when I add a pen and highlighter with the next essay we read. Thanks for the input! One of my favorite parts to writing is coming back to a paper and fixing all the mistakes I made. I’m always critiquing my writing. Seeing what I wrote weeks, months or even years ago shows me just how much i’ve learned. Then, of course, I want to re-write it all!

  3. “What I do mostly is examine a work assuming that the writer is better than I am and he or she has all the kinks out already.”

    Yes! That’s exactly what I do! When I get the published work in my hands, I have to remind myself that it might be perfect, but the writer put a lot of work into it; a lot of editing was done to make sure this comes out right, examining every word on paper.

    Then I realize, the writer isn’t better than me, at least in the sense he or she must do the same thing I have to do: read, revise, look at everything and see if the words, sentences, and paragraphs work!

    • I hadn’t considered that view before: seeing the perfected, published work as the end of the same process I go through. Great insight! Probably the writer is more experience than us students in writing, revising, and editing; but, nevertheless, he or she goes through the same (or similar) process as we do! By seeing the author as a person who struggles to express him or herself, it helps me see more clearly how to critique an essay like Bunn showed us.

  4. Great points here. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an appendix in the back of each book that showed drafts of the various stages that the author went through in creating the final text? I think going back through drafts of my own work helps me grow as a writer. I see the mistakes and changes I made and learn from them. You both make such a good point about how we don’t think about the process that is behind the nice finished product that we see.

    • Yes! That would be cool to see! Not only would you see the author’s decisions and rejections, but also how he or she works through the writing process and learn from that as well.

      • I love how you thoughtfully discussed not only the essay you read but the whole RLW concept. I love the quote you ended with, about how changing the wording can alter our writing completely. In another class I’m taking right now, we are doing literary criticism–reading line by line and considering the author’s use and choice of words and how that creates an image or connotation as a reader. This goes right along with what you read and are writing about. There are so many ways to describe a scene that the possibilities are endless, but the one way an author chooses could draw the readers into his writing or cause them to skip over his section completely. That’s another thing I’m learning about blogging. As we write here, people can comment immediately on what we’ve worked on. We can readily see how our writing comes across to our readers. Their comments can confirm our choices or encourage us to tweak our writing to perfect it.

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