New College Writing Program

Writing to Learn: Assignments

Writer’s Inventory Assignment

When it comes to writing, we recognize from the onset that everyone has strengths as well as weaknesses. Your instructors, for instance, could readily rattle off a list of things they wish they did better as writers and researchers – punctuate more carefully, spend more time pre-writing, use transitions more effectively, find the courage to invite more outside readers to review their work, and so on.

We also recognize that being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses as a writer can alleviate some of the anxiety that often accompanies the act because the recognition allows us to map out a plan of action. For instance, if we know that we're not going to spend much time pre-writing, it is best to “own” this issue from the beginning to plan time later to focus on the particular goals for writing. So too must we make plans for checking my punctuation, use of transitions, and finding someone to serve as an outside reader.

These might seem like simple steps and observations, but they are exactly the kinds of steps with which experienced writers, no less than beginning writers, must contend. Likewise, knowing such issues exist in the first place will make planning for overcoming them easier once a problem occurs.

Thus, the Writer’s Inventory exercise is designed to help you identify some of these more general experiences with writing. Just as important, however, this inventory can also bolster your confidence as you also begin to recognize strengths and, we hope, aspects of your writing that you truly enjoy. Please follow the following three steps to complete the assignment.

1. Writer’s Inventory Questions

Respond thoroughly and honestly to these questions. Try to write at least one hundred words in each response:

  1. What are your general attitudes about writing?
  2. What kind of writing do you most enjoy? Explain why.
  3. What kind of writing do you least enjoy? Explain why.
  4. Briefly describe your best experience as a writer.
  5. Briefly describe your worst experience as a writer.
  6. How would you define “good writing”?
  7. What are your strengths as a writer?
  8. What are your weaknesses as a writer?
  9. Discuss a book, article, poem, or some other text you have read from which you learned something about writing.
  10. If English is not your home language, or if you write in more than one language, discuss what speaking and reading in different languages teaches you about writing. Explain also how working across languages has helped or hindered you in school and in general.

2. Writer’s Inventory Reflection (approx. 250-500 words)

Now choose three of your answers from above and expand on them. This writing should indicate reflection and thought. Your goal here is to show how you came to these initial conclusions. Provide background information, description, and/or explanation to give readers a deeper and richer account of your experiences and attitudes as a writer.

3. Writer’s Inventory Goals

Based on your answers to the Writer’s Inventory and Reflection, write down three to five statements that indicate the kinds of growth and development you will pursue as a writer this semester.

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