Professional writers' insights into the teaching of writing and the phenomena of writing

Judy Beedle McKean Woytowich


Thirteen supporting questions guided the search for the response to the overarching question: What is it that educators can learn from professional writers that will help us when teaching students to write? The "100 Best Writers of the 20th Century" ( Writer's Digest , 1999) were invited to be key-informants in this qualitative study. When none of the 34 living authors on the 100 Best list completed and returned the questionnaire that was mailed to them by the researcher, insights were developed from interviews with publishing house representatives and from artifacts from The "100 Best Writers of the 20 th Century" (Writer's Digest ). Insights from this study were: [Table omitted.] A qualitative analysis using grounded theory provided framework for the study. Immersion into the formal discourses of writing showed that researchers have investigated both how students write and how teachers write, however, the question about how published authors write, or how they learned to write, has rarely been taken directly to professional writers or writer artifacts. Major points in this study indicate: (1) that educators are beginning to incorporate research findings in classrooms that agree with the findings gained from author artifacts in this study. (2) that when authors address personal concerns in their writing, they improve the quality of their lives and the quality of their writing in all genres. (3) introvert as well as extrovert personalities need to be fostered and respected. (4) the need to use two types of textbooks, student products and professional author examples. (5) there is an inter-connectedness between reading and writing. (6) that habits of students must be changed in order that they will come to value hard work and excellence so that quality writing can be produced. Author artifacts are primary resources for writing across the curriculum (WAC) classrooms.