According to the metaconcept of chapter one in our textbook, writing “is an activity in which individuals and groups engage.” (Wardel, Adler-Kassner; p 15). As Kevin Roozen states in Concept 1, “Writing, then, is always an attempt to address the needs of an audience.” (Roozen P 17) We as students who are “future professional writers” and teachers of this field, need to remember these basic concepts as we head to the classroom, and/or put words on paper.
I must admit that when I have written, I have not considered these ideas. However, upon reflection, these concepts make perfect sense. We can expend time and energy writing whatever we want, but if our intended audience is not reached, then all of that work is for naught. This is true even if the audience is ourselves.
We are told by Andrea Lunsford that writing is “always in some way part of an ongoing conversation with others.” Not only do we as writers need to remember this, but is the beginning truth that we need to impart to students as we go forward as teachers. To this end, Lunsford brings to our attention the idea of the “rhetorical triangle, which has at each of it points a key element in the creation and interpretation of meaning.” (Lunsford P 20) It makes sense that these three points on the triangle are the “writer, audience, and text. ” (Lunsford P 20). Using this triangle, the author is on the top point. Then, lines come down from the writer to either the text or the audience because it doesn’t matter if the audience is chosen for the text or the text chosen for the audience.
However, as teachers, we would be using the inverted triangle. For writing assignments, the audience and the subject of the task will be given to the writer. It will then be the authors responsibility to take the information given about the audience and the subject and write the text that fits into those categories.
Another major issue is context. Just as Dylan Dryer says, “the meanings of words are relational.” (Dryer P 23). The example in the book is cup, but it can be any word really. One word that comes to my mind is book. It can mean bound pages to be read, making reservations for a plane or hotel, or even moving quickly. Therefore, we as writers, can never assume that a reader will interpret our writing in the same context we wrote it in.
Since students will need to do some type of writing in all professions, “teachers must do whatever they can to convey the importance and usefulness of writing more effectively.” (Cutler)
Adler-Kassner, Linda and Wardle, Elizabeth. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016
Roozen, Kevin. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016
Lunsford, Andrea A. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016
Dryer, Dylan. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016
Cutler, David, “To Teach Effective Writing, Model Effective Writing.” Edutopia, 10 June 2014, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teach-and-model-effective-writing-david-cutler
4 thoughts on “Writing as an Activity”
Donna, although this link required a log-in, I was able to find the post on your website. I have never thought about the word “book” having so many meanings. Do you think the “triangle” concept is something that you will incorporate into your classroom; would you explain this to your students?
I find your claim that writing without reaching the audience, even if the audience is yourself, is worth nothing to be interesting. I would argue that a person gains from every piece of writing they create, even if it isn’t what they intended because it is practice and gives them a chance to express their thoughts. I can see, however, how it would be frustrating to not reach an intended goal or get your intended point across to other readers.
Your site is much easier to read now! (Once I got there.)
Thank you for your reply. Yes, I do think is something I would like to incorporate into my classroom. I know that in my earlier writing, I always wrote about things that were of interest to me, what I wanted to say. I never seriously considered what my “audience” might want to hear. While I do believe that an author absolutely has to write about what they care about, the audience has to be taken into consideration just as absolutely.
I know you are too young to know about this, but if you research the “coffee houses” of the 1960’s where the “beatniks” gathered to read their poetry, you can get a feel for this statement. These were intellectuals who gathered to read their poems, most of which didn’t even make much sense. Their audience was a very small, select group, but it was their audience, and therefore, the needs were being met. However, these artists knew they would never really meet with commercial success. However, that was just fine with them, as they felt it was the self-expression that was the most important, and therefore, they were successful in their own eyes.
I found this interesting that both you and Willie highlighted the rhetorical triangle and utilized it as a way of thinking about the relationship we have with writing. As I did the readings, this section didn’t resonate the same with me, so I’m glad to have read your post to see what that meant to you as a writer.
I also really enjoyed your own example of words as being dependent upon context: “One word that comes to my mind is book. It can mean bound pages to be read, making reservations for a plane or hotel, or even moving quickly. Therefore, we as writers, can never assume that a reader will interpret our writing in the same context we wrote it in.” When speaking, plenty of context is readily available (setting, tone, etc.) We as writers have to meaningfully establish this context and not take it for granted as you mentioned.
Because I chose to focus in on the rhetorical triangle in my recent blog post, that section of your post immediately jumped out to me. I’m curious for you to elaborate about how educators would use an inverted rhetorical triangle. I’ve always consider the concept of the rhetorical triangle to apply specifically to the creator and creation of the content. It’d be interesting to see the idea of the rhetorical triangle applied in a reverse way as a pedagogical tool instead of being taught directly as a tool for writers to use during their writing process.