What Writing Is & Is Not

by Terry Heick

Writing is inherently reflective.

Writing is an output and product of equal parts process and affection.

Writing can be used to learn and demonstrate learning–often simulatenously.

Writing is not limited to any specific form, function, or genre. Writers often choose a form in which to participate–a story or a poem or a letter–but these choices are part of the writing process, and writers should never feel limited by them. Rather, the form and the purpose and the writer should work together–hopefully elegantly.

Writing is an opportunity.

Writing is both a cause and effect of literacy.

Writing is highly dependent on skills and competencies like spelling, outlining, and editing among others.

Writing requires fluencies like word and word parts and sentence fluency. Knowledge of various paragraph structures, and the ability to develop a single unifying theme (these) through those skills and competencies and fluencies.

Writing is also procedural–the aptly named ‘writing process’ of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing segments what is a very demanding craft into steps, allowing for strategies within each step and providing a flexible framework to think about how and why you should write.

Writing is thinking out loud but only the paper is listening.

Writing isn’t an assignment, but an assignment may require it.

Writing isn’t–absolutely cannot be–punishment.

Writing is a poor assessment form for content knowledge. There are simply too many skill and competency-based barriers that can obscure the knowledge of the writer. Writing-as-assessment assignments, then, must be designed carefully.

Writing is syntax, diction, thematic development, idea organization, minor and major structure, clarity, and creativity.

Writing is highly conceptual. It requires strong awareness of abstract concepts like purpose and audience, and perhaps more broadly, of ideas like quality and aesthetics and style.

Writing is hard work–cognitively demanding and accessible only through skill and perseverance and grit. Unless you’re magnificently talented, writing something well demands everything from the writer, and reflects everything about the writer as well.

Writing is the bending and re-bending of words and ideas until they complement one another.

Writing is rarely possible without reading, but reading is possible without writing. Both are simply different ways of construction knowledge.

Writing is the product of persistence in craftsmanship honed through supported practice and human affection.

Writing, then, is humanizing.