Mike Rose’s “Rigid Rules, Inflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language: A Cognitivist Analysis of Writer’s Block” discusses the difficulties college students encounter in their writing process. Using the framework of problem solving theories, Rose focuses on the second stage of the process, which is known as the “processing” period. It is in this stage that students as problem solvers will rely on past learning as well as develop a plan to find solution. In his interviews with ten students, Rose found that rigid writing rules that the students had learned in the past and doggedly followed along with their inability to see their plans as flexible and subject to change are the major causes of those difficulties. For example, by trying to follow the rule that a good essay must have three or more points, a student ended up turning in a poorly developed essay. Compared to this group of students or blockers, the other group accomplished their writing tasks with less difficulty. Rose ascribes the success to their flexible approach to rules and plans in the processing period. The essay ends with Rose’s suggestions of how to “correct” the writer’s block which stems from rigid adherence to rules and plans.
The interviews Rose conducted are interesting. However, I question the validity of the study and its result. The conclusion of the cause of each case seems to be too quickly drawn. The essay does make a good point about how rigid rules and plans can be writer’s block. I think the block includes many students’ too much concern about grammar.