Monday, December 26, 2011
The words above, in stately mauveine, come from a three-page guide that I made for students in a Spring 1987 writing class, an experiment in teaching writing with word-processing. I discovered this document in a folder underneath a folder underneath a — suffice to say that the document is recently unearthed. I’m amused to realize that it’s the older disks in my analogy that would be familiar to at least some 2011 students.
In 1987, teaching writing with word-processing was a bit cutting edge. Now computer-assisted writing classes are everywhere. I remain unenthusiastic though, because writing is not word-processing. The work of inventing, developing, and arranging ideas is entirely different from the work of preparing a document. Word-processing makes it all too easy for the novice writer to conflate the two kinds of work, so that even the roughest draft (what Anne Lamott calls the “shitty first draft”) looks like a finished product. I take great happiness in seeing my students discover the difference between writing (really writing) and word-processing, typically by (1) working out ideas on paper before typing and (2) revising on paper.
My favorite tools of writing: index cards, pocket notebooks, legal pads, TextWrangler, and WriteRoom. I consider a word-processing window a hostile workplace.
A related post
Beagle Bros disk-care warnings
Writing by hand
[The disks we used in 1987: 5¼" floppies.]
By Michael Leddy at 9:31 AM