John Warner has more than two decades of experience teaching writing, from composition, fiction, and narrative nonfiction to technical and humor writing. But when he sat down to turn his course into his book The Writer’s Practice, he was met with the same challenge teachers find themselves faced with in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: teaching students from a distance.
Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Warner said, “Assignments that worked in one medium (the classroom) didn’t necessarily work in another (a book)…. The resulting many-month process [of writing the book] was a thought exercise in identifying the parts of my pedagogy that are embodied in my face-to-face instruction and, as much as possible, putting them into the book’s experiences themselves.”
The Writer’s Practice draws on Warner’s classroom experience and the most persuasive research in contemporary composition studies. It presents innovative new framework: a step-by-step method that moves the student through a series of writing problems. This organic, bottom-up writing process prepares students for a wider range of academic and real-world writing and allows them to become invested and engaged in their own work.
Warner shares his strategies and motivations for turning an in-person course into a self-teaching process for students, while maintaining a sense of community and connection. As he says, “Building some aspect of community into that distance learning experience is vital. We are social creatures.” To keep that feeling of connection going, Warner asks readers “to show their work to others, to survey opinions, to interview people, and to do a bunch of other stuff that puts them into the wider world.”