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Writing as a process

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

The writing research theories of the late 1970s and early 1980s emphasised an understanding of the processes involved in how we write.61 The writing progressions in this publication are based on the understanding that writers follow recognised processes as they write: planning (deciding what to say and how to say it), composing (translating ideas into written text) and revising (improving existing text). These are cognitive processes that involve problem solving and meaning making. Writing is a recursive endeavour,62 which means that the parts of the processes may be repeated. For example, revising can occur at any time during the process of composing and the writer’s plan may change as the writing progresses. In the process of writing, learning takes place as the writer discovers or changes meanings.

Writing is now seen by many theorists to be a problem-solving process (one that occurs within a sociocultural context).63 The problem may be set by a teacher in a learning setting (for example, a writing task or assignment), or it may arise from the person’s own need or desire to communicate something in writing. Whenever a person writes, they have a purpose for writing and they begin by setting up writing goals relating to that purpose, which will mainly concern the content (what they want to say) and how to express it. As the writing progresses, the writer may read back over their work, making changes to the ideas and information as well as to word-level and sentence-level features, such as spelling, grammar and the order of sentences. The more experienced and confident the writer becomes, the more automatic some parts of the process (such as letter formation, spelling and the use of grammar) become. Other aspects of the writing process continue to require conscious planning and skill, even for the most expert writers.

61 Perl, 1979; Roca De Larios, Murphy and Marin, 2002.

62 Dyson and Freedman, 1991.

63 Flower and Hayes, 1981.



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