After I completed the reading, I found myself thinking a lot about the Flower and Hayes article. On the one hand, I love the mathematical, almost obsessive way they break down the process of writing. The side of me who was, for a very brief moment, a declared math major, was excited to see Flower and Hayes try to capture all the intricacies of writing in a flow chart. On the other hand, the creative writer in me was shaking my head in frustration. The components and steps they describe do make sense as they define them and yet, what do they mean for an actual writer? Do some writers think about their own composing processes in these terms while they are working? (I’m certainly not thinking of “explore and consolidate” or “sub-goals” as I work. Although when I reflect on, say, the way I’ve been writing my novel, I do see that I can categorize some of what I’ve done in these terms, even if Flower and Hayes claim that doing this “after-the-fact” introspection is often inaccurate…) If we do start to think of our processes in the language of Flower and Hayes, how would that help us become better writers?
To phrase my question in terms that relate directly to this course: How can we use what Flower and Hayes outline to help students who are struggling with their writing? How can we diagnose what stages poor writers are failing to include in their own processes? For example, how do we know that students are spending too much time on top-level goals or too much time on low-level goals? How do they know what they are doing? Once we identify which important segments of the composing process they are skipping or spending too much time on, what can we do to address these issues?
It seems that asking students to write protocols of the writing of their essays, like the protocol excerpted in this article, is a good starting point. Since the theme of the week is low stakes writing, I ask: what low stakes writing assignments would reflect the findings of Flower and Hayes?