In “Toward a Composing Model of Reading,” Tierney and Pearson argue that both writers and readers “compose meaning” through five effective functions of the composing process: planning, drafting, aligning, revising, and monitoring.
I swear, these guys are in my head. They definitely know what’s up in there more than I do.
This article is one of those cases where the author explains something that you do without you even realizing you do it. I had no idea that I even had what you might call a writing process (can sitting in front of a computer constantly hitting the “delete” key for 3 hours be considered a process?) until I read through the authors’ meticulously constructed explanation of the writing process. For example, even if we have no idea what we’re going to write in our first drafts right away, we at least have a small idea of where we’d like it to go (e.g., I want to tell people the story of how I can pick up seagulls at the beach [I’m a real bird whisperer]) – this is the planning stage. But the function that made me realize the most about myself as a writer was the process of alignment, the stance a writer takes in collaboration with their audience and the subsequent role the writer assumes as they proceed with their writing. We all take stances when we write, be it persuasive, emotional, intimate, or even neutral. We then decide how we want to convey our message depending on that relationship with our readers, whether through dialogue, characters, etc. This idea makes me think ahead to the repurposing assignment we’re about to get: how will changing the purpose/intended audience/structure of our own writing affect the original message?
And because I’ve read at least two posts so far this week with cute animals, I’m going to continue the trend…
The most interesting part of this article for me was the idea that readers make revisions too (what?!). The authors claim that “most readers view reading competency as the ability to read rapidly a single text once with maximum recall.” That is, if you don’t fully understand/can’t interpret what you’re reading the first time through, you’ve done it wrong. …Have I been reading wrongly my entire life?? Tierney and Pearson argue that “competency” is actually comprised of an active process in which the reader “pauses, rethinks, and revises” like a writer, rereading with a different purpose and asking questions from different perspectives with each read.
I don’t know about you but, doesn’t that seem a little… tiring?
Maybe that’s just me being lazy, but I consider myself a very conscious reader; I don’t really agree that I’m an “incompetent” reader if I read through something once and feel like I have a good grasp on what I’ve read. Even though my goals might change while reading something (i.e., I start reading with the intent to get through a popular book everyone tells me I must read then actually start to get pretty invested in the characters, sometimes even feeling like I’m a part of their lives), is this really “revising”? The idea that writers and readers can both make revisions to the same piece is a really interesting concept, though, and I appreciate Tierney and Pearson for bring up an idea I’ve never considered.
In closing, if you weren’t assigned this piece to read, I highly encourage you to read it anyway. There’s some pretty enlightening stuff in these pages, and you might learn a lot about your own writing process, which is always a plus.