personal definition of writing

Task: You will write a Personal Definition of Writing that incorporates your personal perspectives alongside content from our ENC 1101 course. Your Personal Definition of Writing should consist of at least 4 claims and a 250-word explanation for each claim (at least 1000 words total).

  • At least 2 claims should focus on writing in the writing classroom
  • At least 1 claim should focus on writing in relation to your area of study and/or professional goals
  • You can choose your own focus for the 4th claim (writing classroom, area of study, professional goals, personal life, etc.)

Along with each claim, provide an explanation of at least 250 words that discusses…

  • What the claim means,
  • At least 2 specific readings or texts from our semester that are related to this claim,
  • At least 1 specific way we can see this claim in action either within or beyond the classroom, and
  • Why the claim is meaningful to you as a writer and/or individual.

The following questions are designed to help you consider your specific claims:

  • What writing activities or projects from this semester were especially significant for your understanding of writing?
  • What is something you thought about writing at the start of our semester that you now understand differently?
  • What personal writing experiences do you regularly engage with and what purpose/role do they serve in your life? (e.g., social media, diary/journal writing, letter writing, scrapbooking, poetry, etc.)
  • What is the relationship between reading and writing?
  • What is the relationship between linguistic diversity and effective communication?
  • What do you believe constitutes good or effective writing in the classroom?
  • What should be the role of digital writing in the classroom?
  • What practices should be central to the writing classroom?
  • What do you believe constitutes good or effective writing in your professional life?
  • What is the relationship between writing and social action?
  • What is the relationship between writing and personal expression?
  • How do writers construct ethos/credibility with their audience?
  • What is the role of giving, receiving, and responding to feedback in writing?
  • What is the importance and purpose of drafting in writing?
  • What is the importance and purpose of brainstorming and/or planning in writing?


Claim: There is no single correct way of writing

From a young age, we are taught certain rules that we must follow in order for our writing to be considered correct. We are taught that Standard English is the only proper way to write. However, the way we write is synonymous with who we are as individuals. It’s important for us as student writers to understand that there is no single correct way of writing. If we don’t grasp this, we will be subject to hiding our identities away from our writing. Gloria Anzaldúa in her chapter “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” states, “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity.” Our identities are intertwined with our language. Further, our identities are prevalent in our writing. We shouldn’t feel the need to conform to a single way of writing in order for our writing to be considered valid. We are forcing students with different dialects to hide them so that it’s “easier” for the rest of the world. In his article “Should Writer’s Use They Own English,” Vershawn Ashanti Young mentions that “the one set of rules that people be applyin to everybody’s dialects leads to perceptions that writers need ‘remedial training’ or that speakers of dialects are dumb” (112). By following one standard way of writing, we are telling students that their native way is wrong. Thus, what messages are teachers sending to students? Is our own native way unintelligent? Is the culture with which we identify considered dumb? Young is specifically speaking in his own natural dialect in this article to prove the point that we shouldn’t have to hide behind what society views as incorrect writing. He mentions that rather than shunning other languages and dialects, we should “enlarge our perspective about what good writin is and how good writin can look at work, at home, and at school” (Young 112).

I work at a retail store and one of my friends at work is Haitian. She grew up in Haiti and moved to the United States at the age of 9. Thus, Creole, which is a dialect of French, is her first language. When she speaks, she mixes up her tenses. We share a group chat with our boss who sometimes asks us how a regional visit went for our department. My co-worker will text back something along the lines of, “Everything went great, I told them you was here late last night making sure everything look good.” She is able to communicate effectively with our boss, and her unique way of writing should not be considered incorrect just because it isn’t the standard English way. The way she writes doesn’t affect my understanding of what she is trying to say. We’re all able to communicate with each other and continue the conversation despite our unique dialects. Thus, students should understand that their way of communicating is unique to them. The writing classroom should allow students to express this because there is more than one effective way to communicate, and this is prevalent in the real world.

Claim: Writing keeps us connected

Growing up I never enjoyed reading books. I would even go as far to say I hated reading, but that was because the book selection given to me as a kid to read were not interesting reads. It took Sister Souljah’s book The Coldest Winter Ever to get me to understand the power of a good book. It was the first novel I read in one day, that book was so enticing I could not put it down. That book made me want to become a writer, not because of the content but because of the feeling I had after I read the book. The way it was written made me feel like I was watching a movie, and in that moment, I fell in love with books but more specifically the power of words. Ellen C. Carillo in her essay “Reading and Writing are Not Connected” states, “When one writes, one is creating meaning by putting words and ideas together. When one reads, the same thing is happening” (Carillo 40). She also goes on to talk about how although reading involves someone else’s words and ideas, a reader may connect with that using their perspective and personal experience. This resonated with me because that was the exact feeling I felt while reading “The Coldest Winter Ever.” That novel included moments I could see me and my friends and family sharing, along with neighborhoods I could see myself in. Her book was so well written even up until this day it is still a major part of the African American culture, it is almost like every little black girl’s rite of passage to read that book. Even in moving from up north to down south I still find African American women, specifically within my classes, that go crazy at the mentioning of her book. The power of words will connect people from across all borders, and live on long after the authors themselves. Therefore, writing not only connects us globally, but keeps us connected through the generations that have come before us. Authors who leave great work behind give students learning tools to recreate or recycle concepts, themes, and styles of writing. Experienced, or well-known authors often inspire developing writers and authors in finding their voice and niche in the world. Finding inspiration in other works is a common practice, and sometimes new authors even credit more experienced authors or famous authors. It is important for schools to offer a variety of authors and genres of books to students, so they can explore all styles and forms of successful writing.

Claim: Writing is a group effort, not a solitary activity

According to Kevin Roozen, writing has often been thought of as a solitary activity conducted by a solitary writer. Yet, as discussed in “Writing is an Activity and a Subject of Study,” writers are continuously unconsciously “drawing upon the ideas and experiences of countless others” (Wardle & Adler-Kassner 17). As writers develop their ideas, prior knowledge gained from other texts influence the opinions and beliefs writers express in their own texts. However, writing is more than just an unconscious use of other’s ideas as multiple people are needed to complete the writing process. Writing as a group activity is important for student writers to understand because the best version of a draft typically results from having multiple individuals providing editing and proofreading advice. Student writers can gain new insights into their writing when others can identify weaknesses or new lines of flight for their texts. Readers, for example, can provide writers with comments on where in the text to focus their editing and re-writing process on, with new ideas for further research, and areas to include further explanations of a claim. When group writing activities such as peer review workshops allow students to collaborate on writing assignments, students benefit by learning from each other and gaining clarity on their own ideas and role as a writer. As Peter Elbow claims, helpful comments can help students to “pause, listen, and think” when editing or rewriting their drafts. This makes feedback more of a dialogue and allows for writers to learn how to better their writing or how to better explain their ideas and claims for future assignments.

My own experiences with peer review workshops have led me to feel that my best writing arises when I have multiple eyes scan and edit my paper. As a writer, I understand that I may not adequately explain a claim or provide enough evidence to support a claim because my own knowledge of the topic may cause me to unconsciously assume that my readers know as much as I about the topic. For example, in the first project assignment for this course, I wrote about how the use of English-only in education could cause violence. When the assignment was peer-reviewed, I had someone tell me to give an example of how English-only can cause violent behavior. If I had not gotten guidance for a second person, my writing would not have adequately explained my claim as I unconsciously assumed my readers would know what I meant. Therefore, the ability to interact and collaborate with other writers that express the weaknesses and strengths of my writing is greatly beneficial in allowing me to produce the best draft of my written work.:

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