What this is: I started this blog hoping to share my own ideas about writing and writing pedagogy. My hope is that all writers will learn something new from something on the site and perhaps feel more empowered or inspired to improve their own writing after reading it.
Focusing on two topics, even two topics that both deal with writing, there will always be a bias towards one side or the other. When I began the blog, I imagined that the content would most interest teachers. More recently, I’ve tended to lean more to the side of writing directly to writers. I’d be the last person to discount the value of writing teachers, but all writers are to a large degree self-taught. Few hard and fast rules of writing actually exist, and every one must encode those few rules in their own unique way. To that end, I see these discussions of putting one way of thinking about writing out there for both students and teachers to pull from.
My ideal is that this could be a place to share knowledge and create a community of like-minded teachers, writers, and students. I encourage and welcome discussion in the comments section.
Who I am: My birth certificate says Shawn Patrick Doyle. When I started this blog, my business card said Writing Consultant for First-year Students at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA. After a move to the east coast, I decided to train as a web developer, so that I can find new ways of helping continue the missions that drove me as an educator.
In my past positions, I thought of myself more as a coach than a teacher. While I was often in classes lecturing on writing, I spent a much larger amount of time working with students one-on-one to try and help them develop their own particular academic skills and strengths. My goal in each session was to help every student develop a writing process that allows them to feel proud of their effort and to feel like their voice is heard.
Why am I here: Sometimes I joke that I am proof of the rule that those that can do, those that can’t teach. While my own education included many moments I am proud of, few of those had to do with writing. I feel this background is one of my greatest assets in my teaching. It lets me draw on the frustrations of knowing what it is like to feel required to write a paper while feeling completely overwhelmed by the task.
Where these stories come from: Unless otherwise noted, every story that I tell on here is meant to be a fiction that tells the truth. In other words, it’s a composite of many experiences in my job and observations of writing instruction that I read/hear about. No student or instructor specific stories are used without permission.
Reposting of ideas: Unless otherwise specified, all of the ideas here are my own. I’m happy if you share them with others; however, please do not republish any post or original idea, in digital or print form, without providing credit.
Many of these posts share lesson plans, and they are shared with the idea that others may wish to borrow from them. I don’t require credit if you are using them in class; however, if you use any of these ideas, I would appreciate hearing about their usefulness to you, especially if you modify any of them to your own particular teaching style or students.
A note on pronouns: I’ve gone back and forth over the years about whether the correct pronoun for “writer” is “he,” “she,” “s/he,” or “they.” At the moment, all choices are flawed. Whenever possible, I use the term “writers”, which enables me to sidestep the debate. However, there comes a time when “writer” and “writers” are not equally satisfying options. You may note that I am not consistent in how I solve this problem over the history of this blog. This inconsistency reflects an inability to agree in my own mind with how this problem ought to be solved. Updated stance on the issue: More recently, I’ve opted to use “they” to get past the gendered nature of the other options. Given that I can’t imagine the invention of a gender-neutral pronoun taking off and the general clunkiness of any combination of “he or she,” I imagine that sooner than later, the resolution to this dilemma will be an acceptance of the word “they.” All of which is to say, “Please don’t grouse about my choices as I’ve groused about them enough on my own.” I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.