“Idiosyncratic Paths in Professional Writing: Wayfinding in Writers’ Early Career Development.” Literacy in Composition Studies. Forthcoming.

In this article, we explore how the concept of wayfinding allows us an opportunity to map post-collegiate writers’ complex and recursive movement in and out of different territories, realms, spaces, and spheres of writing ecologies. Focusing specifically on accounts from seven alumni who participated in focus group interviews during 2018-19, we offer stories of writers’ navigating the transition from college to workforce. Using wayfinding as our theoretical lens, we pay attention to the ways in which writers trace the idiosyncratic paths they follow as they draw on knowledge and abilities from different and multiple writing ecologies, not just school-based learning. Moreover, focusing on writers’ articulated sense of wayfinding honors the knowledges they are building about writing. Such examples show us how alumni “find their way,” and introduce three emergent themes in our ongoing analysis of wayfinding. Our participants describe their ongoing and developing journeys as writers: (1) encountering the unexpected, (2) navigating career plans and paths, and (3) seeing beyond the boundaries of writing contexts. In each case, we narrate how wayfinding helps us illuminate the complex dynamics at play as these writers continue to explore how writing is meaningful in their lives.

"Affect and Wayfinding in Writing after College." College English. Vol. 82.6 (July 2020). (563-590)

This article explores the emergence of emotion and affect as important dimensions of how, approximately three to ten years after graduation, writers with bachelor’s degrees engage in composing activity professionally and personally. Specifically, this article looks at how emotion about writing projects can serve as signposting, allowing writers to connect to their work and compose in ways that have an emotional impact on readers. More compellingly, emotions can also orient—and re-orient—writers toward a better understanding of what they need, and want, that writing to do. This emotional engagement builds their self-definition and identity as writers. After reviewing relevant scholarly literature in the field, the authors turn attention to an examination of survey and focus group data that demonstrate how emotion and affect, sometimes unexpectedly, are powerful resources that individuals engage with in developing their own senses of themselves as writers.

“Toward Wayfinding: A Metaphor for Understanding Writing Experiences.” Written Communication, Vol. 37.1 (2020). (104–131)

In this essay, we map out four major approaches to the study of writing experiences: (a) worlds apart, (b) literacy in the wild, (c) ecologies and networks, and (d) transfer. We examine how the primary metaphors used in each approach have contributed to our field’s understanding of writing. In focusing on specific dimensions of writing, each framework privileges a different aspect of the writing process, writing development, and/or writers’ context(s). Building on these approaches, we propose the concept of wayfinding to emphasize how writers navigate their own writing development, skills acquisition, and changing knowledge about writing over time. Wayfinding offers a metaphor that resonates with recent work on lifelong learning and meaningful writing. Among other characteristics, wayfinding emphasizes how writers encounter a continuous potentiality in writing and how they navigate unanticipated challenges and opportunities.


Related Articles

Lindsey Harding, Robby Nadler, Paula Rawlins, Elizabeth Day, Kristen Miller, and Kimberly Martin.  "Revising a Scientific Writing Curriculum: Wayfinding Successful Collaborations with Interdisciplinary Expertise."  College Composition and Communication 72:2 (December 2020).  (333-368)

Interdisciplinary collaborations to help students compose for discipline-specific contexts draw on multiple expertise. Science, technology, education, and mathemat-ics (STEM) programs particularly rely on their writing colleagues because 1) their academic expertise is often not writing and 2) teaching writing often necessitates a redesigning of existing instructional materials. While many writing studies schol-ars have the expertise to assist their STEM colleagues with such tasks, how to do so—and, more fundamentally, how to begin such efforts—is not commonly focused on in the literature stemming from these collaborations. Our article addresses this gap by detailing an interdisciplinary Writing in the Disciplines (WID) collaboration at a large, public R1 university between STEM and writing experts to redesign the university’s introductory biology writing curriculum. The collaborative curriculum design process detailed here is presented through the lens of wayfinding, which concerns orientation, trailblazing, and moving through uncertain landscapes ac-cording to cues. Within this account, a critical focus on language—what we talk about when we talk about writing—emerges, driving both the collaboration itself and resultant curricular revisions. Our work reveals how collaborators can wayfind through interdisciplinary partnerships and writing curriculum development by transforming differences in discipline-specific expertise into a new path forward.