Admit it — you secretly harbour a belief that everyone else’s writing just flows perfectly while you’re the only one who stutters and suffers, trying to get a piece of writing whipped into shape. If you feel that way (and I know that I often do!), check out University Affairs. There’s a great short snippet on Watching Experts Write in the latest issue.
The article talks about Dalhousie’s purposeful demystification of the writing process, carried out through a workshop called W.H.I.P.S. — “Write Here in Plain Sight”. Professors each sat in a room with their computer screens projected so that others could see their writing in process:
As they wrote, the faculty members talked out loud about what they were doing and thinking for the benefit of some 120 students – and more than a few faculty members – who came to learn.
“I’d say things like, ‘darn, that doesn’t fit here,’ and take out a few sentences,” recalls Carolyn Watters, dean of graduate studies and professor of computer science, who took part.
“In the middle, I said, ‘I can’t fix it from here,’ and had to go back to the [original] headings.” It’s an eye-opener for students, she says, “to realize that it wasn’t that easy for us to write.”
This is a brilliant idea. I think I’ll suggest this to our graduate dean!