In regard to conflicting data relative to the composing process, wouldn't the results depend on the circumstances? We are good writers when we write texts out of necessity or as a requirement to produce results. We are also good writers when we write creatively--for our own edification--with less emphasis on producing results. Can one person be equally proficient in writing professionally and creatively? Or should the writer specialize in a specific area of writing texts -- poetry as opposed to technical writing or vice versa?
Response from Shawn B.
I can understand why there would be difficulties and contradictions from the data reported by Emig. Every student, and anyone else, is capable of being a "good" writer, but it does depend on the circumstances. Some write best making outlines, and others write best at the last minute with what seems to be little or no organization. Some write best in the classroom while brainstorming in small groups, while others prefer to write completely alone.
Emig provides us with a good list of questions for teachers to keep in mind, and this would be useful for each teacher to consider when they are using the composing processes, but I don't think we could supply one answer for these questions using data from one school, region, or state.
I definitely think it is possible for students to be proficient or successful writers in many different genres. Personally, I fancy writing short stories, but I really pride myself when it comes to technical essay writing. I've always looked at it as if someone could be equally proficient in playing in a wide range of instruments. If someone can develop the basic disciplines that comprise playing an instrument (reading music, recognizing tone, pitch, etc...) then it opens up a number of possibilities. I know a man who graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY who could play trumpet, trombone, piano, and focused mostly on the saxophone, but could never pick up a guitar for some reason. How common that actually is? I don't know, but I know it is possible if the motivation is there.
Response from Michelle
This whole "good" writer label adds a lot of pressure to an individual, because I do not think that just because one excels in one particular type of writing then they can excel in all types of writing. I think it's also the reason that we are given options of tracks at the graduate level. I enjoy analyzing literature and writing about it, but I could never create something from scratch as in poetry or short stories. In response to your question, I think it is important to find what you are good at and try to excel in it. On the other hand, I would also advise to dabble in other forms of writing because you never know what will come of it.
Response from Caleb
Wilma, I believe people can be proficient at both professional and creative writing, and in many cases, there are instances where these two styles overlap. The label technical writing can be misleading, as there are a lot of jobs in this field that require writers that can think on their feet, and write creatively. Also, there are a lot of creative writers and novelist that are very formal, in many cases difficult, and need technical reading experience to decipher their points. Though these writing styles are very different, undergraduate, graduate, and ph.d courses offer chances for writers to foster both of these styles, and teaches the basic tools of what it means to write not well, but rather with knowledge of what writing encompasses (like Shawn said).