“Writing Without Teachers” (1973) is a book from Peter Elbow, an well-known American educator, about Freewriting. Its overall purpose is to give instructions for better writing.

Trying to get everything just right in the beginning is a formula for failure, the author claims. Accordingly, people should exercise writing simply by writing without a break, without looking back, without crossing something out and without wondering how to spell something right. Thus, Freewriting is about nonediting and that should make writing less blocked.

Elbow argues most writers constantly try to correct their grammar and spelling during the writing process. This habit derives for the author from schooling, since then many are “obsessed” with their mistakes. This is a problem as learners getting nervous and jumpy if they concentrate all the time on their mistakes. Nevertheless, editing itself is not the problem; the problem is that people editing at the same time as they write. On the contrary, when somebody is speaking he has no time for editing at all. For the author speaking is easier and not so “heavy” as writing and he encourages the reader to think on an occasion where the reader gave a good speech. Elbow assumes the beginning of such a speech was seldom just right but with the ongoing speaking it ended up well.

Finally, the author mentioned an inner voice; a voice with its own sound, texture and rhythm, and this voice make people listen. For good writing people have to transform the voice into words and that would be practiced with Freewriting.

Note: I wrote this text as an assignment at my Academic English Course at the University of Copenhagen.

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