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Write Well in Less Time Joe Moxley Professor of English University of South Florida Help you enjoy writing and achieve your writing goals in less time. Workshop Goal.

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Write Well in Less Time

Joe Moxley

Professor of English

University of South Florida


A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them --William Stafford

workshop document freewrite
Workshop Document Freewrite
  • What attitudes and habits enable you to achieve your writing goals? In turn, what attitudes and habits interfere with your success as a writer?
when first developing a project model the behavior of successful writers
When first developing a project, model the behavior of successful writers:
  • Play the believing game (as opposed to the doubting game). While composing, ignore negative thoughts (such as, I don’t have enough time, this is a stupid idea, the professor will hate this).
  • When the negative thoughts are crippling, critique them in double-entry format. Visualize success.
understand composing processes
Understand Composing Processes
  • Different products involve different processes.
  • Different personality styles have distinct composing patterns
  • Understand your own strengths, weaknesses, proclivities as a writer
wisely manage your composing processes
Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes
  • Balance prewriting with writing and revising
  • Do not edit early drafts
  • Be flexible about how you write. For example, prewrite before researching; organize after prewriting.
wisely manage your composing processes9
Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes
  • Stop writing at reasonable intervals.

Timely stopping is more difficult and important than starting. Without the skill of stopping on time, writers cannot become productive workers who enjoy writing. Why? If they cannot break the momentum of busily, urgently doing things that hold them in a trance-like state, writers cannot begin (or end) writing sessions on time. And if they cannot stop writing when they have done enough for the day, before diminishing returns set in, they make writing aversive and more difficult to resume on the next scheduled occasion. (--Robert Boice)

wisely manage your composing processes10
Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes
  • Establish priorities and act accordingly.

Structuring your time without being tense about it helps writers find additional time to work and play. And more. If you work with a sense of structured routine, with a present-orientation (cf dwelling on missed opportunities), with effective organization, and with persistence, you will be more likely to display higher self-esteem, better health, more optimism, and more efficient work habits. Without learning the language of time, you risk depression, psychological distress, anxiety, neuroticism, and physical symptoms of illness. Clearly, writers must learn to deal with time. (Robert Boice)

3 wisely manage your composing processes
3. Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes

Log time spent researching and writing.

I started keeping a more detailed chart which also showed how many pages I had written by the end of every working day. I am not sure why I started keeping such records. I suspect that it was because as a freelance writer entirely on my own, without employer or deadline, I wanted to create disciplines for myself, ones that were quilt-making when ignored. A chart on the wall served me as such a discipline, its figures scolding me or encouraging me. (Irving Wallace)

sample log
Sample Log
  • Keep a daily log of
    • new words written
    • class of writing (1, 2, or 3)
    • description of activities
    • description of goals (people to contact, revising goals, research goals)
3 wisely manage your composing processes13
3. Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes
  • Practice Patience.
      • Avoid rushing, trying to do too much at one time, bingeing.
      • Take deep breaths. Give your eyes a rest. Walk away from the computer every 30 minutes and stretch.
      • Reserve your most energetic time of day, if possible, for writing.
3 wisely manage your composing processes continued
3. Wisely Manage Your Composing Processes (Continued)
  • Break documents into manageable sections.
  • Establish due dates for first, second, and subsequent drafts.
  • Write when you are sick and tired.
  • When all else fails, freewrite about your process and establish reasonable contingencies.
practice prewriting strategies
Practice Prewriting Strategies.
  • Give Sufficient Time to Prewriting/Planning
      • Freewrite
      • Read/Research
      • Discuss the matter w/peers & mentors
      • Construct an Outline or Issue Tree
      • Dictate
      • Complete a Document Planner
use a document planner
Use a Document Planner

Tentative Title/Subject Line: ______________

Establish a Reasonable Schedule:

  • Due date for conducting necessary background research
  • Due date for networking with appropriate resource people
  • Due date for writing first draft of document proposal
  • Due date for receiving criticism from peers and supervisors
  • Due date for writing second drafts of document
  • What economic factors impinge on how this project will be developed or received?
  • Final due date
use a document planner continued
Use a Document Planner (Continued)
  • Purpose: Clearly define your purpose in as narrow of terms as possible.
  • Audience Profile:
    • What do you know about your audience?
    • What do you want your reader to do, understand, or feel? What does your reader know about your subject?
    • What counterarguments or questions should you anticipate?
  • Rhetorical Relationship: What is your relationship to this audience? As a consequence, what voice/persona should you project?
  • Boilerplate/Discourse Conventions: What standard questions/issues are you expected to accommodate?
use a document planner continued18
Use a Document Planner (Continued)
  • Persona/Voice:
  • Boilerplate/Discourse Conventions: What methodologies/authorities/questions/issues are you expected to accommodate?
use a document planner continued19
Use a Document Planner (Continued)
  • Status of Scholarship: What important articles have been written about this topic? Where have these texts appeared? What new ideas can you contribute to this scholarly conversation? Briefly describe your informative or persuasive purpose.
  • Methodology: What procedures and methods will your audience find credible? What methodology seems appropriate to yourself, your subject, and your audience?
  • Length and Format: How long can your project be? What figures and tables or other formatting techniques are commonly used? What form of documentation is required (MLA? APA? The Chicago Manual of Style?)
enough prewriting get writing engage the generative nature of language
Enough prewriting! Get writing! Engage the generative nature of language

Freewrite: Trust the generative process of writing. Keep perfectionist tendencies in check. (Remember: Fluency precedes correctness)

enough prewriting
Enough prewriting!

The positive force is the surprise of discovery. Writers are born at the moment they write what they do not expect. . . . They are hooked because the act of writing that, in the past, had revealed their ignorance, now reveals that they know more than they had thought they knew. -- Donald Murray.

revise your work play the doubting game
Revise Your Work: Play the Doubting Game
  • Perceive revision to be a creative and inevitable process.
  • Solicit critiques from your peers before submitting work and before conducting research. Once you submit a piece and have it rejected, learn from rejection.
revise your work play the doubting game23

6. Revise Your Work: Play the Doubting Game

Revise Your Work: Play the Doubting Game
  • Systematize how you revise documents.
  • Provide the evidence, examples, and logical connections that readers need to follow your story
don t let rejection beat you
Don’t Let Rejection Beat You

Solicit as much criticism as possible. In a peculiar way, criticism looses its venom when taken in large dosages. And, of course, if you risk rejection on ten projects, sooner or later one of them will be accepted, thereby rescuing your pride!

don t let rejection beat you27
Don’t Let Rejection Beat You
  • Don’t take criticism personally. Focus on the positive. Don’t waste your energies writing to editors and telling them why they were fools to reject your ideas. Instead, place your energies into moving forward. Either immediately revise the manuscript or send it back out for consideration elsewhere.
don t let rejection beat you28
Don’t Let Rejection Beat You
  • Don’t accept everything you hear. Ignore the cranks. Like bad drivers, there are too many cranks for you to police.
  • Be your own worst critic. No one will take your work as seriously as you do.
  • Don’t try to critique your work at the last minute.
don t let rejection beat you29

Don’t Let Rejection Beat You

Don’t Let Rejection Beat You

Be realistic. Remember it’s much easier to criticize than invent. Every manuscript can be critiqued, even ones authored by major scholars and researchers.

sample publication timeline
Sample Publication Timeline
  • Published without revisions as the lead article: "Reinventing the Wheel or Teaching the Basics? College Writers' Knowledge of Argumentation." Composition Studies 21:2 (Fall 1993): 3-15.
  • The Writing Instructor, University of Southern California/. Los Angeles, CA, August 17, 1991.
  • Journal of Teaching Writing. Indiana University English Department, Indianapolis, Indiana, March 26, 1990
  • Research in the Teaching of English, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York, January 12, 1990
  • College Composition and Communication, NCTE, Bowling Green, Ohio, November 6, 1989
  • Journal of Teaching Writing, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 28, 1989
  • College Composition and Communication, National Council of Teachers of English, Findlay, Ohio, August 2, 1988
sample publication timeline31
Sample Publication Timeline
  • JAC, July 5, 1988
  • Journal of Basic Writing, The City University of New York New York, New York, January 14, 1987
  • Journal of Basic Writing, April 28, 1987
  • Rhetoric Review, Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, Texas, February 10, 1986
  • Research and Teaching in Developmental Education,Niagara University, New York, October 31, 1986
  • Written Communication, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, September 15, 1985
  • College English, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, February 26, 1985
workshop document
Workshop Document
  • Draft a Document Planner