The Writing Process and its Similarities
Research involving the talk aloud protocol, or speaking aloud as one writes, has been
achieved through the likes of researchers such as Sondra Perl. In her research, Perl
way unskilled writers wrote by analyzing them in a systematic manner (Perl
). In addition,
the question brought to mind is the fact that with increased understanding of the writer’s writing
process, what can be learned from the nature of co
mposing and how writing in school is taught
However, Perl’s research was done by studying the writing process of other people.
My question is, what sort of information can be found by doing research on your own writing
process? Instead of using
the talk aloud protocol on others, I will seek to examine the benefits of
using the talk aloud protocol first hand as I engage in the writing process.
In order to gather information, the talk aloud protocol was used. I excluded myself from
s in order to fully concentrate on the task at hand. As I read and answered the
questions that were assigned, I spoke out anything that went through my mind and recorded it as
I went through the stages of planning, writing, and revising. In addition to thi
s, I analyzed the
audio recording and transcribed every word that was said onto paper in order to discover patterns
throughout my writing process. Lastly, I created a table to illustrate the criteria used in order to
label different occurrences in my writi
ng process as seen below.
As I wrote, I began to notice a pattern throughout my writing process. At the beginning of
each response, a large portion of time was focused around planning. This includ
ed the way in
which the answer would be presented, the way in which the answer could be elaborated on, and
the way in which connections were made between the text and the question at hand.
to this, further reading was ensued in order to gather
information in order to establish a credible
answer to the question.
After planning was finished, the actual writing occurred. However, scattered throughout the
actual writing process were several pauses occurred in order to figure out what to write next t
connected well with the previous sentence. As I wrote, the only thing that fluctuated through my
mind was the actual words being formulated into the correct structure that I felt was correct.
Whenever I lost track of where I was in my answer, I would f
all into a recursive process in which
reading of the question, reading of the text, and reading of what was written previously occurred
in order to grasp exactly what was just written. This resulted in the digestion of information so
that further connectio
ns could be made in order to continue the next sentence in a fluid way.
Perl’s case study, Tony often displayed a recursive behavior similar to what was done. Tony
rarely produced a sentence without ending in order to read what was previously written (P
As words were written onto paper, errors would occur throughout this process. In order to
alleviate the revising that would need to be done after the paper was complete, editing of
previous sentences and words were done as soon as the realizati
on of an error occurred.
Furthermore, this type of behavior slowed down the writing process based on the fact that it
interrupted the train of thought I currently held. Each time editing occurred there was a brief
pause that followed shortly after without
fail. In addition to this, a period of “relapse” occurred
which included planning of the structure and content of the next sentence.
In Sondra Perl’s research, Tony often edited sentences as he wrote in order to preserve
correct form, grammar, and spellin
g (Perl 200). However, this disruptive behavior inhibited his
ability to write in a fluid manner based on the fact that this behavior
disrupted the flow of ideas
in his mind (Perl 200). In comparison, the same type of behavior was found to be littered
ughout my own writing process. The same exact result occurred when I edited my previous
sentences for spelling and structure. There would be a brief pause after editing was completed in
which relapsing occurred. Time was needed to gather thoughts, plan the
next sentence, and grow
into the writing mindset once again.
In this case study, similarities between the writing process of Tony and myself were found.
The fact that editing and recursive behaviors we
found in both instances might suggest that
t different skill levels of writing may follow a similar proc
ess in the way writing is done.
The question is, what comparisons can be made by the way teachers educate writing at different
levels of skill and comprehension? In addition to this, the ability
to use the talk aloud product
firsthand allowed for deeper understanding in the way I read, write, and comprehend
information. However, the results found by using the talk aloud protocol may be skewed based
on the “lab effect” and the disruptions caused by
actively talking while engaged in the writing
process. With this being said, the results found in this case study has brought a greater
understanding of the similarities between writers at different skill levels and also the limitat
of using the talk
Perl, Sondra. "The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers."
Writing About Writing
Ed. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. 191