After receiving six responses to the survey, primarily from writers who have more experience in writing poetry, I am finding that the majority of participants (currently four of the six) compose initial drafts with paper and pen rather than on a computer. The participants are also reporting that they perceive a large (4) or very large (2) difference between the two composing methods. These initial results seem to be confirming my thesis that there is a difference between the two methods. In addition to these results, I have found that many of the comments provided to the open-answer question enlightening, and may provide guiding questions when developing the final analysis. I have also found that the response rate is somewhat limited in this field, and I hope there will be a way to rectify the situation before the final report is due.
Although other research related to digital composition has found a limited differential between manual and digital composition, I am finding that in the genre of poetry composition there is a greater difference. This suggests to me that there are definitely some tools present in this study that will help poets develop their writing to a greater extent. One of my primary goals is to find those tools and describe them so that creative writers will have more insight into the composition process. Unlike Hartley, Howe, and McKeachie’s paper (“Writing through Time”), I believe I will find significant differences in composition results. Although I am using a different methodology, and analyzing initial compositions rather than published works, I feel that this study will provide great insight for writers of all stripes. If manual composition results in higher-quality initial drafts, as my initial data is showing, then there may also be a correlation to revised and final versions as well, which would be an interesting direction for a follow-up study.
I believe the low response rate is due to a limited audience exposure and a lack of interest in analytical research in the creative writing field. Because of the timing surrounding the survey (Thanksgiving holiday), I also figure a lot of possible participants have had other things on their minds. In order to rectify some of these issues, I have several solutions in mind. I hope that exposing the study to a larger readership will drastically increase the participation rate, and to that end, I have posted the survey invitation to more open poetry forums such as on reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/Poetry/). Although many of the participants seem to be at a more entry-level of poetry composition, I hope that this will include the additional benefit of exposing a greater audience to the study, and result in a wider range of participant experience. Assuming greater participation from these additional invitations, a greater range of opinion and experience will result in a more thorough study.
The lack of interest in analytical research for creative writing will certainly be a more difficult obstacle to overcome than the exposure issue. However, I do have some hope for this obstacle, as I discovered Segue during this research. As the online literary journal for Miami University – Middletown, Segue’s mission
is to serve as a high quality literary publication and an educational venue for writing instructors and students of writing. In addition to publishing an eclectic blend of [literature], each issue features a well-established author who publishes a small body of new/forthcoming work along with an essay that explores the writing process behind their submission. (Segue)
Hopefully, although Segue has not published extensive selections in their “Writers on Writing” section, they will be both interested in this research as well as continue to provide a venue for the exploration of creative writing rhetorical studies. The continued development of these studies will serve to increase interest in analytical studies of creative writing over the course of time, but probably not in time to increase participant interest in this particular study.
As far as the issue of timing in regards to participation, I can only hope that by inviting a wider exposure and the return to more normal hours after the holiday, that participation rates will increase. Although I have not received a great response yet, the small number of participants have offered interesting responses, as well as insightful comments. In addition, so far two participants have volunteered for follow-up interviews. This is promising in that I will have additional data to review and hopefully some writing samples as well.
Hartley, James, Michael Howe, Wilbert McKeachie. “Writing through Time: Longitudinal Studies of the Effects of New Technology on Writing.” British Journal of Educational Technology 32.2 (2001): 141-151. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 October 2010.
Segue. “Segue Seeks Submissions, of Scholarly/Creative Work.” The Writers’ Circle forums. 20 March 2007. Web. <forums.awpwriter.org>. 24 November 2010.
Segue. “Writers on Writing.” Miami University – Middletown. Web. <www.mid.muohio.edu/segue/wow.htm>. 24 November 2010.
An addendum:The efforts to reach a larger audience have paid off, as I now have 37 responses to the initial survey, and many more volunteers for the follow-up interview. My numbers initially seem to be tilted toward the more experienced poets, and I would like to try to balance that back out.