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Process Writing With Line, Hook, and Sinker

Assignment Summary

When students hand in their textual analysis essays, I ask them to write a process piece in which they describe the writing and revising process as though they were on a fishing expedition (baking a cake, cooking a meal, planting a garden). I tell them to record all the preparatory steps, talk about their successes and failures, and notice their emotions

. This project works especially well in conjunction with textual analysis because we usually spend some time noticing and exploring metaphors. Sometimes I give students a short poem by Stephen Spender to set the stage:


The word bites like a fish.
Shall I throw it back free
Arrowing to that sea
Where thoughts lash tail and fin?
Or shall I pull it in
To rhyme upon a dish?

Instructor's Comments

I came up with this idea because the process pieces were often stale and superficial. By giving students this assignment, I hoped to read more lively and detailed reports, but I was surprised about the good results. Most students, even the shy or reticent ones, were able to turn their observations into creative and insightful process notes full of valuable observations.
genre textual analysis
course WRT 102
activity type individual writing assignment, process writing exercise
skills analysis, reflection, metaphorical thinking
duration 1 class
short poem (see above)
handouts: none
contributor: Astrid Wimmer