The Psychology of Writing: The Affective Experience

The Psychology of Writing: The Affective Experience

The Psychology of Writing: The Affective Experience

The Psychology of Writing: The Affective Experience

Synopsis

This timely work provides a new perspective on the study of writing. Brand studies the affective aspects of writing, writer's emotional arousal, and processes. Current work in the field is dominated by the cognitive view, the intellectual process of writing. Brand argues that to be complete, theories of writing must include the affective component. Empirical studies of five groups are presented in the book--college writers, advanced expository writers, professional writers, student poets, and teachers of writing. Examined are the intensity and frequency of 20 emotional states experienced while writing.

Excerpt

With all the research and study of the writing process in the last quarter century, it's remarkable how little research and study there's been of emotion or feelings in writing. With all the research methodologies (e.g., introspection, interviews, speak-aloud protocols, textual analysis, the use of TV cameras trained on writers, and so forth), we hear little about feelings. As we look at models of the composing process, and even as we read most protocols of writers writing, we are usually lulled into forgetting what we all know so well: there is a continuous stream of feelings going on at every moment of the writing process. (This is not to mention those prior feelings that got us to sit down to write in the first place--whether pleasure and anticipation or fear or guilt about failing to do what we have been assigned to do.) These feelings cannot but have an enormous effect on everything that writing researchers research: choices about language, discourse, genre, structure, voice, tone--matters of pausing, audience awareness--and all the rest of the acts and decisions that every writer must make in the act of writing.

Why has there been so little disciplined study of feelings in writing? Perhaps the answer is as simple as that people like Flower and Hayes have managed to do such powerful and effective work without attending to feelings. It's hard to quarrel with success. And yet Flower herself (talking about "writer-based prose") whets our appetite to know more about feelings when she shows how a "cognitive overload" can sabotage our writing when we are struggling to work out a difficult idea and then we try to think at the same time about how to suit it to our audience: in saying this she leads me, at least, to think about the "affective overload" that can . . .

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