The writer and the reader: advanced writers’ cognitive processes during writing

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In their seminal writing model from 1981, Hayes & Flower identify three main components: planning, translation and reviewing. However, it is unclear how aware the writer is about the importance of these processes during writing, and what a writer herself would identify as her most important writing processes. It is also uncertain if different processes are in focus during different stages in the development of writing. Bereiter & Scardamaila’s (1987) model of knowledge tellers and knowledge transformers, in combination with Kellogg’s (2008) addition of knowledge crafters describes a development from a writer who is interested in telling everything from beginning to end, to a writer who modifies and edit her text, to a writer who has focus on the reader’s experience of the text.

In this study in-depth interviews were used to find out how advanced writers think about their own writing processes. We were particularly interested in the writer’s shift from the text (knowledge transformer) to the reader’s experience of the text (knowledge crafter).

We recruited 16 participants from a university program for creative writing. Most, if not all, aim at becoming professional authors. All participants volunteered to take part in a writing experiment in the beginning of their 2-year-program. However, this study focuses on the second part of the study: interviews about their views and definition of writing. More specifically the open questions dealt with their thoughts on editing, planning, reading and how “present” the reader was during their writing processes. Their answers were contrasted to a group of established authors (n=7) who got the same questions. The findings so far indicate that the students to a much less degree than the established authors planned their writing project on a global level. The students were further more concerned about their own exploration of their writing than what a potential reader may think about the text. A difference in the student group found between those few who had previously worked professionally with writing (e.g. journalists), where the awareness of the future reader were equally present as in the group of established authors.

The results give room for different reflection on the students’ views on planning and the reader:

1.The students may take their education in creative writing as an opportunity to explore their own writing processes, and thus putting less emphasize on both the global planning of the text and the potential readers’ reactions. In a different context they may be more concerned about the reader.

2.The students were in the beginning of their education during these interviews. The program put great effort in letting their students meet and receive reader reactions to their texts. Consequently, a follow-up interview by the end of the program may reveal a different awareness of the reader.

This study gives a contribution to the field of life-long learning and development of writ-ing. It will also add important knowledge for the development of teaching methods for adult writers.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventSkriv! Les! Nordisk Forskerkonferanse om lesing, skriving og literacy, Stavanger, 18–20 maj 2015. -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


ConferenceSkriv! Les! Nordisk Forskerkonferanse om lesing, skriving og literacy, Stavanger, 18–20 maj 2015.
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics (60201)


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