Clark & Ivanic

Chapter 4: Writing Processes and Practices

The Politics of Writing

Romy Clark & Roz Ivanic

“The plural ‘practices‘ implies that there is no one right or appropriate way of behaving or communicating, but multiple competing ways of being. These competing ways of being are not equally valued or accepted, hence the struggle for hegemony.”

I like that phrase, “multiple competing ways of being”. We are all unique. However, I could do without the competitive aspect. This is why I find it sort of counter-productive to do peer review on drafts. We all get to the same place by a different route, so having someone look at an unfinished phase in the process just has never made sense to me. That may be because I am not much in the habit of actually writing a draft, and I do have to grudgingly admit it is nice to have the work mostly complete well before the actual due date. That said, my quality is often lower with an early draft than when I am pushing a deadline. I really am one of those people that works well under pressure. I do a lot of pre-write thinking, and researching, and then I just do the writing all at once. It’s my way of being. Haha.


“These differences in practices seem to us to be of enormous significance and often interact with the cognitive processes involved in writing. For example, the choice of writing technology will have an effect on the cognitive work that the writer does: using a word-processor is likely to lead to a greater willingness to revise and redraft.” This is a double-edged sword scenario, at least for me. I might be more willing to redraft something written on a computer, but I am less careful about things like organization and wording in my first draft, knowing I can go back and change it so easily. I also do not stop to reflect and take notes on other things of interest that come up when I am typing an assignment. I don’t often type, at least for the first draft, for this and other reasons. I like the reflective time brought out with writing on paper, and then the organization and revising happens in a big way when I transfer that written draft onto the computer. The choice of tool really affects my creativity and flow.


I find the idea, where they reference Widdowson, that it is the lack of immediate feedback that hinders writers to be sort of…well, astonishing. That’s exactly what I don’t want. “The lack of immediate feedback from reader(s) means that writers have to manage the dialogic aspect of writing by trying to anticipate their reader’s reactions to and disagreements with what they write.” What? Isn’t that what a rubric is for…and don’t you have an idea of this before you sit down to write anyway?

“Our representation attempts to capture the dynamic interplay both between all of the elements of the writing process and between the psycholinguistic and social features, and also to convey the message that there are no prescribed routes through the process.” I am new to the concept of writing as a process that seems to permeate the discourse of writing conventions these days. I think I missed it as I never took a composition class in either high school or as an undergraduate. I am starting to think this has given me a sort of freedom to ignore parts of these practices and processes they outline here. I do like the emphasis paid to the other things that are structuring a writer’s writing outside the writer’s knowledge of the topic and forms to be followed. The writing environment, inclusive of both physical environment and social and emotional states are just as important and sometimes more so.


Fun words (tongue is in cheek):

hegemony – the dominance or leadership of one social group or nation over others


2 thoughts on “Clark & Ivanic

  1. joetorok says:

    Sarah, I glossed a question mark when reading the passage about competing ways of being. Like you, I think it makes some sense and is a logical way to put it. But also like you, I started to wonder about the conceptualization framed through the idea of competition and hegemony.

    It seems like this invokes (composes?) a larger framework that values dominance and imbalanced power relationships, and it does this at both the macro (social) levels and within the micro (personal/psychological) levels. On the one hand this may be an accurate way to describe the world as is (in other words, perhaps Clark and Ivanic are just reporters here), but on the other hand, I sense a move similar to one they critique later on. When they critique the idea of writing as a set of skills, they say the problem (among others) is that focusing on writing as a transferable technology doesn’t afford writing as a meaning-making activity.

    I wonder if this same critique can be applied to some of the conceptual frameworks they invoke here–in other words, by accepting and invoking the framework of “competition” as a way of being, what other ways of being are left by the wayside, never to be explored or, perhaps more aptly, composed?

  2. That is a really good point, Joe, and they run the danger anyone does when trying to create a dichotomous relationship. One could characterize collaboration as a transferred activity that makes meaning, couldn’t one?

    The hegemony aspect really threw me, I get the idea that they are trying to find ways of framing writing that value differences within practice, yet it seems they are simultaneously outlining a hierarchy with one ideal form at the top that is “best”. This is problematic in so many ways, especially if you are looking at writing primarily as a meaning-making activity. We all make meaning in different yet rhetorically and culturally appropriate ways. This to me does not lend itself to competition or hegemony, as such. I would have to agree that various methods of writing would be left out in this framework.

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