We, as humans, are in a constant state of flux. While some aspects of our personalities may be somewhat permanent (for instance, I can’t resist cracking a joke to alleviate tensions,) we are learning new things every day, and we are more connected to people than we ever have been. I know now that I am a completely different person than I was ten years ago because of changing who I spent the majority of my time with, and exposing myself to new ideas. This tendency to change is also present in our work as writers. As Tony Scott says, “writers are socialized [and] changed through their writing in new environments, and these changes can have deep implications” (49). The conversations that we lead in the classroom will have a tremendous effect on our students writing. We, as instructors, can help students become more aware of their place in the conversation. However, I do not just think of the students’ place in the conversation, I think about the changes in the styles of their writing. For me, there were a few classes that changed the way I wrote forever. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m sort of, for lack of a better term, informal writer. I tend to use fairly accessible language, and I’m all about my audience thinking that my writing sounds like me. However, when I first started college, my voice was much more stifled. Later in my college career, though, I started to have more lively classes. I wanted to make sure that I sounded like myself because my peers that I respected and enjoyed conversations with would be reading my work. Never underestimate the impact of socialization and environment on the writer. Scott says that the “understanding of writing as a socially involved practice” has “vexed” educators, but I’m not sure that it should. As a future educator, I feel like I need to place more weight on the social process of writing (50).
Writing, as I think everyone has picked up on at this point, means a lot to me. Kevin Roozen says it best “writing also functions as a means of displaying our identities” (51). Creative writing instruction, in particular, has allowed me to really find myself. Everything that I write has a sort of, as one of my friends put it, “morbid hopefulness.” I find myself writing characters that are confused about their place in the world. They aren’t ever where they want to be, and, even if they don’t know where that place is, they’re clawing to find it–all while making wrong moves and social missteps. Writing these characters has helped me work harder in my own life to figure out what I want, but has also allowed me to accept myself as far from perfect. I’m not saying that everyone has to write characters who are exactly like themselves, but it has really enriched my writing and my life to do so. Instructor Pernille Ripp says in her blog that “Our job as teachers who write is to help students uncover their writing identity.” However, I want to strive to give students writing assignments that will help them discover themselves as writers, but will also help them discover themselves as people.
Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. University Press of Colorado, 2016.
Ripp, Pernille. “I am Not a Writer- On Developing Student Writing Identity.” Aha Moment, Being a Teacher, Writing. https://pernillesripp.com/2016/02/05/i-am-not-a-writer-on-developing-student-writing-identity/. 15 September 2019.