WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Writing to Make Something Happen in the World

What kinds of writing make something happen in the world? College students in a six-year research study felt particular pride in the writing they did for family, friends, and community groups—and for many extracurricular activities that were meaningful to them. They produced flyers for fundraising campaigns, newsletters for community action groups, nature guides for local parks, press releases for campus events,and Web sites for local emergency services. Furthermore, once these students graduated from college, they continued to create—and to value—these kinds of public writing.

A large group of college students participating in a research study were asked, “What is good writing? The researchers expected fairly straightforward answers like “writing that gets its message across,” but the students kept coming back to one central idea: At some point during your college years or soon after, you are highly likely to create writing that is not just something that you turn in for a grade, but writing that you do because you want to make a difference. The writing that matters most to many students and citizens, then, is writing that has an effect in the world: writing that gets up off the page or screen, puts on its working boots, and marches out to get something done!

— St. Martin’s Handbook, 12.66 — page 890.