Entering a Writer's Process
Entering a writer's process can be a terrifying, trying, exhilarating ordeal. Despite the frustrations that you are bound to encounter along the way, you'll come to love the experience of sitting down with a writer, bending your heads over a paper, and wrestling an idea into language.
Still, there are some things to think about as you step with a writer into her process.
- First, where is the writer in her writing process? Is she writing her way towards her real subject? Has she found a subject and is now searching for a structure? Or is she looking for ways to make her paragraphs work?
- Second, where can you enter the writer's process? Do you want to discuss the writer's choice of topic? Her thesis sentence? Her essay's structure? Its style? These decisions must be made quickly (if you are a tutor) and wisely (no matter which position you've been assigned). Where you enter the writer's process determines what you can do in the hour or so that you will devote to the paper.
- Third, how do you enter the writer's process? Entering a writer's process is a delicate matter. You must understand how vulnerable the writer is to your criticisms. Try to think of ways to praise the writer before you begin your critique of her thinking or her prose. If you are a tutor, think about your body language. If you are a writing assistant, be careful about your tone. (Be patient: we have more elaborate advice, specific to tutors and writing assistants, elsewhere in this site.)