I also found Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s writing anxieties relatable. During the early stages of writing, Fitzpatrick claims she has difficulty talking about her work at all out of a fear that “someone else’s opinions might interfere with [her] writing processes, confusing [her] sense of the issues that [she’s] exploring before [she’s] been able to fully establish [her] opinion” (Fitzpatrick 20). As a student I have similar academic anxieties regarding originality and ownership. I’ve become especially aware of this working through the creative project. I’ve asked myself: If a significant portion of my project is article excerpts and commentary, is the argument really mine? Has what I’m trying to say already been said? (yes)
Fitzpatrick argues that we ought to move past our writing anxieties and open ourselves up to the opportunities that sharing writing offers. If we share drafts during the process of writing we create a network of supportive writers that can help improve, rather than take away or disqualify our ideas. When it comes to writing “we need to think less about individual authorship and more about collaboration; we need to think less about originality and more about remix; we need to think less about ownership and more about sharing” (Fitzpatrick 28).
I think what she’s saying in response to these anxieties is that no (good) idea or argument is the product of a pure, spontaneous, or original stroke of genius. Part of what makes a good argument is that it’s an informed argument; this is true whether the argument is building off of history, philosophical/literary theory, our professors, or our peers. Although sharing an idea can be tough while we are still in the early stages of figuring out what exactly it is that we’re trying to say, collaboration can generate important discussion that might help us bring these ideas to fruition.
Our projects have seemed pretty collaborative so far; we’ve presented our ideas, discussed them as a class, and now we’re going to do some peer editing. What positive (or maybe negative?) experience have you had with the collaborative writing process? Have your ideas changed in a significant way? If so, do you feel like these ideas are still yours?