Writing- a way of acting in a system created by writers

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This post is based on Marilyn Cooper’s article “The Ecology of Writing”.

Writing is considerably improved using different theoretical models over the years. Writing teachers also played role in revolutionizing traditional way of writing in which more emphasis was given on usage error than on content. Today, content, way of thinking and new ideas have become more important. Writers and readers both have “literary competence” and readers can infer the information intended by writers. I found this interesting as I had read a meme on Facebook:

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht  oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe”.

A detailed explanation on this meme is available at: http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt.davis/Cmabrigde/

Increasing interest in writing led formation of new theoretical models. Cognitive process model is one of them and widely considered, but it concentrates solely about the writer. Cooper called them solitary author and they can form idea, pass the information they formed and make authors believe what they think. Such writers produce only what can they personally think. Hence, involvement of society, its activity, and structure are necessary to build information with great vigor.

The author purposed an ecological model of writing, which is differed from widely accepted “Kenneth Burke’s pentad (dramatism)”.


Burke’s pentad, source: Wikipedia

Unlike Burke’s model, ecological model includes interaction between writer and his system beyond his immediate context. In biology, ecology means study of interaction between an organism and its surrounding environment. Organism-activities are changing the surrounding environment and in response to changing environment organisms are changing. Such changes lead the evolution and we are result of evolution. Similarly, the system in which writers are working, is not imposed, writers create it. The system is dynamically interrelated, react with writing activity and structured by writers.

The question on audience in writing has always been challenging and ecological model helps to construct a satisfactory answer. This model suggests that in ongoing social context of writing, writers imagine, invent, communicate, and know their audience. Critic’s comments, reviews, feedback and revision on the text or information help writers to write audience-oriented writing. Hence, writing is a complex process, influenced by society, and written to influence society. Cooper states “writing is not simply a way of thinking but more fundamentally a way of acting”.



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