Writing Preferences

Not everyone follows the same process for arranging thoughts and putting them down in words. It is valuable to identify the kind of writing process you generally use. When you understand the strengths of your approach, you may keep them in mind as resources to capitalise on. When you see the limitations, you may take compensatory measures (e.g., build in time after your complete a first draft for Reverse Outlining and thoroughgoing Revision) or undertake remedial exercises to bring alternative approaches into your toolkit.

One way to explore writing preferences is to position yourself in relation to four pairs of profiles that Legendre (n.d.), a writing instructor at Cornell University, created based on Myers-Briggs personality types. As with Myers-Briggs, there are 16 permutations of the writing preferences. In brief, your preference with respect to
Idea generation may be Active or Reflective
Conceptual focus: Factual or Theoretical
Attitude towards audiences: Objective or Personal
Time and idea management: Focused or Inclusive

Preferences, once identified, can be built on and weaknesses—what comes with the other preference—can be kept in mind and addressed. For example, an Active writer needs to write to work out what they want to say, so someone with that preference needs to allow time to rework their first pass and convert it into a second draft that GOSPs what they found out they wanted to say.

Legendre, B. (n.d.). “Exploring your writing preferences.” Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Writing Workshop (available at http://www.faculty.umb.edu/ peter_taylor/legendre.pdf; viewed 9 Jul 2010).

(See Phase G)