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Thea's proposal

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Thea, I really like that you've selected this topic! As a writer/teacher, I do talk about my own process as a writer with my students, sharing some of my own "rituals" which they sometimes enjoy (though sometimes they just think I'm weird). Writer's block, though, which I'm intimately familiar with, is something I've never really discussed with them...again, probably for the same reasons we talked about in class last week -- i.e., what do first year writers know about writer's block? I'd really like to know how to make allowances for it while at the same time not letting it become an all purpose excuse for not getting something done on time (wait, I think I've used that excuse myself...)

Like Gary said, I'd like to be able to ask them, "Do you suffer from writer's block?" without it becoming an excuse.

I asked my Crea Writ class, and all of them vehemently denied it. Then again, our first unit was on poetry, and since there are far fewer rules, they may have gotten around normal rigidities.

I don't think I've ever talked to my students about writer's block - at least not using those exact words. I suppose that's because it's not something I really struggle with - so it's good that I'll be forced to think more about it!

Always one to look for practical applications, I think it'd be great to talk about tips we can share with our students at different points in the process at which they might experience writer's block.

Thea, this looks interesting. One of the ways that I try to talk about writer's block with my students is to give them a short reading by Maxine Hairston on plodders, bleeders, and sprinters. There is a link about it here:

I combine this with a short piece by Anne Lamott on writing really shitty drafts that's available here:
from: /www.writingcenter.emory.edu/bird.html

These are both pieces about revision (not writer's block), but I wonder to what extent writer's block is caused by confusion about the quality of the draft one needs to produce. If one is a Sprinter who is (in Lamott's terms) only worried about producing a "Really Shitty" first draft than I don't think the writing process is so daunting, and I suspect one is less likely to get blocked then if one is (in Hairston's terms) a "bleeder." This would, though, require some students to work through the drafts in stages which for some students (plodders?) may be part of the problem.

To build on what others have said, I'm interested in the causes of writer's block. Thea, one of your proposal questions asks how we might build safeguards against block into our writing assignments. We'll only be able to do this, of course, if we understand its various causes. What leads students to develop those different writing approaches Steven outlines? What's going through the mind of the bleeder? I'm eager to hear about research into writer's block that deals with its origins, as best as writers and observers have been able to ascertain.

Very interesting site you have. I come here often to see what new articles you have written.

That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.