“No One Writes Alone”?

While I understand the intent behind the title “No One Writes Alone,” I do not agree with the message. Writing is a solitary activity; it is finding a comfortable space, maybe listening to music, maybe not, exploring thoughts in a depth greater than one is capable of in speech because written thoughts are recorded, can be elaborated on, and returned to. Even peer reviewing, at least as it is taught in schools, is a solitary effort. Students take a piece home where they find a familiar space, maybe listen to music, maybe not, and explore the work before them according to their own personal thoughts, opinions, and backgrounds. They make comments or corrections on the paper, which is not always heeded by the original writer. Peer reviewing enables students to explore different styles of works and learn through reading, but writing itself is the task of one person alone. Even in the instance of coauthors, writings are created separately before being combined. Writing is solitary because thinking is solitary; the two are simply a reflection of each other where one has physical representation and the other does not.

Discussing writing face-to-face is a way to explore the writing process amongst multiple people. This does not negate the previous assertion that writing itself is between the writer and page alone. Instead, it is to say that speech conveys thoughts between writer and peer directly. In discussion, both sides are actively attuned to the writing and the thoughts of their conversation partner. In our own peer reviewing groups for the extended inquiry project, I was nervous for this discussion process. Writing is an extension of oneself; to critique it is essentially to critique another person (or at least one aspect of them.) My nerves were unfounded, but based in experience. I greatly enjoy the editing process and tend to leave an exorbitant number of comments on the work of others. Previously, this has been both appreciated and an offense to my peers. I was nervous to see which way this conversation went: it was appreciated.

Writing itself is accomplished alone, but I concede that discussing writing is a social act. The social task greatly improves the antisocial one. Maybe this title isn’t saying that writing itself is a collaborative effort, but rather, that the writing process should be.



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