English teachers on the prowl for the next big thing have picked up the language of the Maker Movement. Writing is no longer just Writing (so last-year!); writing is now a type of Making.
Writing an essay has been transformed into making media, in the same way killing civilians was transformed into collateral damage.
Teachers may believe that writing is making, but students won’t be fooled.
Writing an outline is not like drawing a floor plan for a kitchen remodeling job. A finished document is not like a remodeled kitchen.
The Maker who designs the remodeled kitchen doesn’t have to find the trees from which to build the cabinets or mine the metals that go into the plumbing fixtures.
By contrast, Writers have to make their own raw material.
Writers start from nothing—or as near to nothing as to make no difference—and manufacture every sentence that goes into the finished product. When they finish, the sentences may turn out to be unsuitable: They may not have the strength to carry the weight of the thesis.
It may even turn out that Writers neglected to manufacture a thesis, leaving them with nothing but a trash bin full of paper or pixel construction debris.
Instead of trying to pass writing off as making, writing teachers should latch on to similarities between writing and making that will help students understand why writing is so hard and takes so long. We’ll look at that topic next Thursday.