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Flexibility and Time

Skilled writers use their previous knowledge of the material they are writing about to plan and strategize. In “Expert-Novice Differences in the Writing Process,” M. Atlas (1979) writes about differences in where expert and novice writers obtained ideas, how they used them in the writing process, and how their own knowledge helped them build a better piece of work. In addition, Atlas (1979) shows the difference in the amount of time expert and novice writers put into their work, and how this affects its completeness.

Expert Approach

Atlas (1979) says in his article, “Skilled writers used many more ideas, organized them earlier, and paid far more attention to the reader…skilled writers also tended to organize their ideas as they generated them” (abstract). Expert writers use not only the information provided by a prompt, but also use their own knowledge to enhance what was given to them in order to make a more thorough piece. Additionally, expert writers are open to changing their ideas throughout the writing process. Atlas (1979) also says that expert writers add their own comments to the given information as they write (p. 3). Furthermore, experts spend more time writing than novices. Because of the time they spend composing their work has more complex grammar and is more personalized for the audience.

Novice Approach

Atlas (1979) writes that novice writers never deviate from the information in front of them, such as a prompt, and they rarely put their own ideas into their writing (p.3). Novice writers are insecure in their abilities and therefore write only the bare minimum. Atlas (1979) reports, “the novices showed less originality than the experts, in many cases adhering closely to the outline” (p.4). Also, novice writers do not spend as much time on their work as experts; because of this their pieces are shorter, not as grammatically complex, and do not respond to the issues concerning the audience (Atlas, 1979, p.6). Rather, novice writers’ pieces are more likely to be blunt and impersonal (Atlas, p.5).    

Applications

  • Know plans change. Plan extensively before writing, but know that it is not concrete and can change as more knowledge becomes available.
  • Spend enough time. Give a document some thought and spend the time to plan, write, and revise.