1c. Setting Goals for Your Writing Practice

What, How, and Why We Write

WHAT will you write?



In WR 121, you practice academic writing and produce college essays.


Consider: What are the elements of successful and interesting writing?


HOW will you get the writing done?


You’ll learn a process for drafting, sharing, and revising your writing, which will help you build habits for success in any writing situation you encounter.


Consider: What is an effective writing process for producing interesting writing?

WHY do you write?


You write in a particular context for a specific audience.


Consider: What is the purpose for a particular piece of writing? Why do you value writing? What inspires you to write? (Or, if you struggle with writing, what do you think you would find inspiring?)


Setting an Intention for Your Writing Practice


calico-cat lying on a keyboard.
Image: The struggle is real; Pixabay.

What are the biggest challenges for all writers?

  • Getting started or finding a topic
  • Constructing a clear, specific thesis
  • Finding compelling evidence to support the thesis
  • Organizing an essay effectively
  • Reading and comprehending difficult texts
  • Sharing your writing with others

How do successful writers meet these challenges?

Writing doesn’t stop being challenging, even to the best writers. Successful writers have cultivated habits that help them meet the challenges of writing and the writing process with more confidence, but it doesn’t make the challenges less difficult; it just makes them (slightly) more manageable. Producing a “perfect” paper isn’t–and shouldn’t–be the goal for this class. But knowing what successful writing is and does, practicing the skills that give you confidence to engage any writing situation, and cultivating habits to grind through any challenge–these are realistic goals for your work in a first-year college writing course.



climber makes it to top of tower in Moab and pumps his fist triumphantly
A climber stands atop a spire on Ancient Art at Fisher Towers. (c) 2012 Tom Kelly

You can do it!; by Tom Kelly licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0.

What is your why?

Setting an intention for your writing practice this term will give you focus and purpose in your writing. Just like knowing your destination helps you plan your route, an intention is a goal that gives you direction so you don’t feel so lost and aimless. When you get stuck in your writing–and you will! we all do!–you can return to your intention to help motivate your writing.

To help set your writing goal(s), you’ll want to consider the following questions:

  • What are the components of a college essay or other writing assignment?
  • What makes a piece of writing, even academic writing, interesting?
  • What are the habits of successful writers?
  • What do you accomplish by writing your ideas in college (or other settings)?



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Writing as Inquiry Copyright © 2021 by Kara Clevinger and Stephen Rust is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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