Donald M. Murray, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and educator, presented his important article, “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product,” in 1972. In it, he criticizes writing instructors’ tendency to view student writing as “literature” and to focus our attentions on the “product” (the finished essay) while grading. The idea that students are producing finished works ready for close examination and evaluation by his or her instructor is fraught with problems because writing is really a process and arguably a process that is never finished.
As Murray explains,
What is the process we [writing instructors] should teach? It is the process of discovery through language. It is the process of exploration of what we know and what we feel about what we know through language. It is the process of using language to learn about our world, to evaluate what we learn about our world, to communicate what we learn about our world. Instead of teaching finished writing, we should teach unfinished writing, and glory in its unfinishedness (4).
What this chapter hopes to reveal is how we will utilize a specific and somewhat demanding process in order to help you produce written work you are proud of. It also includes a short segment pertaining to thesis and body paragraph writing.