Two essays have chosen different paths to show how to correctly write. Peter Elbow’s essay “Freewriting” is almost the exact opposite of Donald Murray’s essay ‘The Maker’s Eye: Revising Your Own Manuscript”, yet how can they both claim that their way is the best way to use when writing. In today’s world neither one seems to be very practical unless you are an author or someone with a lot of time on their hands. For the purpose of this essay editing will be the key to a well written paper, and this approach seems to favor Murray.
Editing your paper is the most important, because nobody appreciates a writers capabilities if their papers are filled with numerous mistakes and unfinished ideas. Freewriting is neither useful or fulfilling in any way unless it is edited. Peter Elbow says in his essay, “That the most effective way to improve your writing is to do freewriting” (Goshgarian 62). Really freewriting is not improving your writing, but only a way to clear your thinking. This is a good way to start thinking about what you want to write, but not to improve the caliber of your writing.
Clearly Mr. Elbow’s essay about freewriting was unable to be published if it was not edited. Was Elbow’s essay even freewriting to begin with, it’s very doubtful. To be in a language book used in universities an essay has to be very in-depth and well research, it’s not just some thoughts put together and thrown to the publisher. Like Murray said about editing, “The difference in attitude is the difference between amateur and professional, inexperience and experience, journeyman and craftsman” (86).
Murray is saying that to be professional the main and most important thing to do during the writing process is editing. Elbow talks about numerous things that editing takes out of papers examples of these would be, unacceptable thoughts and feelings, your own voice, and “bad writing” (63). These things might be useful in poetry, but in writing papers or novels there isn’t a need for them with the exception of voice every once in awhile. According to Elbow these are problems with editing, but he says, “editing is necessary if we want a satisfactory product” (63).
Contradicting himself from previous paragraphs Elbow portrays that for a piece of writing to even be satisfactory editing is needed, but free writing is still better, if you don’t want people to read it. Freewriting could be considered a first draft, and a first draft in this society is not an acceptable form. “When students complete a first draft, they consider the job of writing done and teachers too often agree” (Murray 86). There is always room for improvement, after a first draft, in writing, and the way to improve is through editing.
The first draft is really just the beginning of a long process in which strenuous editing occurs from peers, coworkers, employers, and yourself. Murray says that when a writer is editing their own work they must become their own worst enemy (87). Meaning that in a setting where a writer must edit their work, being conscious of what is good and also what is bad is key. There isn’t any room for useless phrases or unnecessary opinions, thought, etc. Editing is a tough thing to do for many writers, even famous authors who write everyday. The last act of writing must to become ones own reader, the writer must survey his work critically, coolly, as though he were a stranger to it” (Murray 87). Professional writers edit their papers more time than countable, and are very critical of their while they do it. In Murray’s essay he uses an example of this with Roald Dahl, a famous children’s writer, “By the time I’m nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least 150 times” (87).
For people who aren’t professional writers editing is not as demanding an activity as Roald Dahl would have you believe. In a college setting there are many different resources to help in the editing of papers. This enables the writer to get praise for good ideas and to question some not so well thought of ideas. The pressure of editing your own work is less cumbersome, and the 150 times can be limited to three or four for a well put together paper.
Good writing is based on a solid framework of logic, argument, narrative, or motivation which runs through the entire piece of writing and holds it together” (Murray 88). Editing is a way to get rid of the useless words, sentences, paragraphs, and even ideas. Progress is made with each edit of a paper, it becomes one step closer to being finished After the clutter is sorted out the solid framework becomes apparent, and the paper becomes quality.