The Writing Process

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Scores of composition instructors agree that writing should be taught as a recursive process, rather than a liner process, and they also agree that most writers employ certain writing strategies as they produce drafts. Sandra Perl’s article, Understanding Composing” shares these beliefs because she states: “writing does appear to be recursive, yet the parts that recur seem to vary from writer to writer and from topic to topic” (142). Perl explains that throughout the writing process, writers employ a “forward-moving action that exists by virtue of

backward-moving action” (141). Furthermore, Perl claims that when writers plan, draft, and revise their writings, they use a process she labels as retrospective structuring which involves attending to a writer’s a felt sense, returning to the topic presented, rereading what has been already written, and reassessing the words written (145).

Perl claims that the most important retrospective structuring feature involves writers paying attention to their felt sense, a term she borrows from Eugene Gendlin, a philosopher at the University of Chicago (142). Perl defines a writer’s felt sense as a bodily experience or nonverbal thought that “surround the words, or to what the words already present evoke in the writer” (142). Moreover, when writers use the process of felt sense they pause and react to “what is inside of them,” and writers seem to focus on “careful attention to one’s inner reflections and is often accompanied with bodily sensations”(Perl 144). Furthermore, Perl believes that skilled writers employ their felt sense unknowingly while unskilled writers can be taught how to pay close attention to their felt sense (144).

Perl then describes that when presented with a topic, w...

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...g (147).

I believe that Perl offers some valuable insights to the composing process, and I agree with her that writing is a recursive process. As an English tutor, I always encourage my student to reread what they have previously written. In doing so, many students will discover that some sentences in their drafts ”just do not sound right” and they are now able to make the necessary adjustments, making their writing more coherent. I also believe that rereading key words in the topic helps students generate new ideas and the key words in the topic could be used during a prewriting activity, such as creating a clustering diagram. Lastly, I am elated that Perl provides a name to something that cannot really be explained—felt sense. I will now be able to tell my students to “call up” their felt sense as way to aid with their writing.
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