Writing is extraordinarily powerful!
I, too, believe there are some fundamental standards in writing as far as sentence construction and plot development are concerns, for example, but I would discourage efforts by instructors to provide too much guidance in the writing process. Wyborney describes the process by which he came to the conclusion that prewriting is overrated - or at least misapplied.
Unfortunately, as I guided my students through a detailed writing process, I often found that the funnel of creativity seemed to narrow. The open-ended power of prewriting seemed to cultivate curiosity and creativity, and then the rest of the writing process seemed to mow it down to an unwanted uniformity.
"Prewriting," I realized, did not take place before writing. Prewriting was not preparing to write. Prewriting was actually writing. Initially, I thought the different forms of prewriting...all shared a common feature: the recording of thoughts...
As I continued to write and to work with students, I eventually realized that the act of writing involves a massive intrapersonal exchange of thinking. The refinement of thinking is spurred on by recording thoughts (in any form), and those recorded thoughts, which may come in micro-moments, continually fuel and inform the thinking.
Writing does not happen after thinking. Writing fuels thinking, accelerates thinking, generates thinking, is thinking, and leads to more and deeper thinking.
Some of my best thinking occurs as I write, not before I write.
The next statement is true, as well:
No wonder I felt such a sense of dissatisfaction as I guided students toward mowed-down creativity that yielded highly similar products. I was failing to acknowledge an extraordinary process.
For every student I squeeze (figuratively speaking), a different juice should drip out (Mayhaps that's not a great metaphor after all.). Actually, I don't have to change anything that Mr. Wyborney has already written when he says the following:
As a teacher, I find that there is an unusually strong temptation to try to "make meaning for the students" by talking. Yet when I compare any attempt to "make meaning for the students" to the power of student writing, I have a difficult time making sense of any approach in which I spend a majority of the lesson talking.
But when it comes to writing, we often have a different approach. We forget to ask students to notice and wonder, and we fail to engage and empower them to blaze their own trails.
I am learning to resist the temptation to make meaning for the students. I am learning to remove my voice from the conversation and to provide space for the students to be the makers of meaning.
May we continue to see the steps of the writing process, but may we also understand that writers must apply their own quirks, eccentricities, and idiosyncrasies, and habits to their art!