Writer's Block: The Cognitive Dimension

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SIU Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 152 pages
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Writer’s block is more than a mere matter of discomfort and missed deadlines; sustained experiences of writer’s block may influence academic success and career choices. Writers in the business world, professional writers, and students all have known this most common and least studied problem with the composing process. Mike Rose, however, sees it as a limitable problem that can be precisely analyzed and remedied through instruction and tutorial programs.

Rose defines writer’s block as “an inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of skill or commitment,” which is measured by “passage of time with limited productive involvement in the writing task.” He applies insights of cognitive psychology to reveal dimensions of the problem never before examined.

In his three-faceted approach, Rose develops and administers a questionnaire to identify writers experiencing both high and low degrees of blocking; through stimulated recall he examines the composing processes of these writers; and he proposes a cognitive conceptualization of writer’s block and of the composing process.

In drawing up his model, Rose delineates many cognitive errors that cause blocking, such as inflexible rules or conflicting planning strategies. He also discusses the practices and strategies that promote effective composition.

The reissue of this classic study of writer’s block includes a new preface by the author that advocates more mixed-methods research in rhetoric and composition, details how he conducted his writer’s block study, and discusses how his approach to a study like this would be different if conducted today.


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1 Introduction
Questionnaire and StimulatedRecall InvestigationProcedures and Results
3 Case Studies of Two Students
4 Conclusion
Areas for Further Investigation
Writers Block Questionnaire
Results of Statistical Analyses of Writers Block Questionnaire
Assignment Materials for StimulatedRecall Study
Analytic Scale for Evaluating the StimulatedRecall Essays
SWR Series Statement
Other Books in the SWR Series
Back Cover

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About the author (2009)

Mike Rose is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and is the author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America, The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker,and An Open Language: Selected Writing on Literacy, Learning, and Opportunity.

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