How Do Experienced Writers Engage with Other Writers?


  • Return to the selection from [insert title and author of the essay you read for class] and reread it with an eye toward where the writer has incorporated ideas, facts, words, and approaches from other writers. Mark those moments in the text, and take 20 minutes to make a list that classifies each of those moments (what type of use has [the writer, e.g., Rodriguez] made of these sources?). Then, using an app like Intermind, create a map or genealogy of ideas, facts, words, and approaches in [the writer’s] work.

A. Spend 30 minutes writing about where the writer COULD have gone had they used a source a little differently, following a different path on your map; OR

B. Find one of the sources that [the writer] uses and read it [or a selection of it]. Write for 30 minutes to suggest ways that evidence you found in the full text might complicate the writer’s argument.

  • Mark where the author of the selected reading has used a source to (a) complicate conventional wisdom or the accepted way of looking at a question or issue and (b) help the writer approach the issue in a new way (from a different angle). After marking and annotating, share with your small group what you found; compile a list with explanations for how the writer was able to complicate the work or to come at the issues from an entirely different angle. Divide the group and have 2-3 (assuming a group of 4-5) write for 20 minutes on one instance where the writer able to do these things in ways worth emulating (and how one might emulate it). The other 2-3 students would respond to the question of where the writer was unable to make the source do the work they wanted it to do (and why). Compare notes and share with the class.
  • Write for 30 minutes about how the author engages in a kind of conversation with other writers. How does the writer develop their own ideas in relation to those of others? How is the way this author engages with sources different from the way that you have used sources in the past? How might you use some of this author’s strategies and techniques for engaging with other writers in your own work?
  • For a researched writing project you are working on, answer this question for each of the sources you hope to use: “What work do I want these words or ideas to do for my reader?” (Habits of the Creative Mind 120). Create an annotated bibliography that includes your response to that question for each of the references.