Informal Writing What are the uses of informal writing?

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Informal Writing

What are the uses of informal writing?

  • To develop/practice particular skills

  • To help with invention, drafting, revising

  • To develop students’ awareness of their writing processes

  • To motivate students to write

  • To promote ownership and agency

  • To master ideas

The varieties of informal writing




Speed writing; blind screen writing; e-list; chatroom

Responding to prompts

Journal prompts; readings prompts; peer review prompts; beginning-of-discussion catalyst; middle-of-discussion rejuvenator; end-of-discussion summary


Daily, weekly, reading-centered, event-centered, theme-centered, totally free, quantity-based, double-entry journals, lab notebooks,

Asking questions

Generating questions for readings; generating questions for peers’ texts; asking questions about the course; imaginary dialogues

Online communication

E-lists (listservs); Pipeline chats; popmail address books; IM chats; Daedalus chats

Class collaborative project

Class zines; class publications; mock trials; dramatizations

Personal publication

Individual’s magazine; personal web page


Modeling of paragraph, sentence; using parodies; modeling genres (memos, letters to editor, CD liner notes, ads, etc.)

Impromptu reportage

In-class report on a staged event; report of a field trip or video


Analysis of a writing assignment and how it was met; analysis of classroom use of a text, program; analysis of the course; generating grading criteria for assignments

Creative informal writing

Dialogues; skits; bio-poems of real/fictional persons (Gere, 1985); letters to famous persons; metaphor games


Practice essay exams; job application cover letters; thesis sentences; revision of paragraphs; revision of peer papers

How does informal writing fit into the course structure and assessment process?

(The following options may not be valid depending on the type of informal writing assigned)

  • Tie informal writing clearly to formal graded papers or portfolio

  • Avoid evaluative responses to informal writing; record that it was submitted

  • Use informal writing for skills-building and encouragement—play coach, not judge

  • Let students be the respondents

  • Limit time you devote to reviewing informal writing, and stick to it.

  • Use class time to review informal writing

  • Ignore editing errors; consider this drafting

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