This is such a great idea.

Dalhousie Writers Offer WHiPS

Yeah, yeah, we know what they tell you about writing. But have you ever wondered how it is actually done? Today you can witness one of the most secretive of all human behaviours – writing. Come for ten minutes or come for seven hours. Come and go from venue to venue.

First introduced to the world in 2007, Write Here in Plain Sight (WHIPS) is a bold adventure in teaching. The project is based on the premise that, as with other skills, learning how to write an academic paper can be significantly enhanced by observing expert behaviour.

Every word, every typo, every moment of writer’s block will be projected on large screens in four different rooms. Audience members witness the horror, the struggle, and the triumph of writing as it is practiced.

Watching the writers will reveal exactly how messy and idiosyncratic the writing process is and how it actually happens. The writers will share their inner-most thoughts as they plow through the process. The audience will get to question what they see as it evolves. In Sunny Marche’s case, the audience will choose the topic, and then be witness to the research, thinking and writing as it happens.

Among the writers wielding their pens at WHIPS are:

* Carolyn Watters, Dean of Graduate Studies, Computer science
* Ian Colford, award winning creative writer
* Lyn Bennett, Early modern poetry and rhetoric
* Sunny Marche, Information systems
* Rohan Maitzen – dedicated blogger and expert in the Victorian novel
* Carol Bruneau – award winning writer-in-residence. She writes for adults and for children; now she writes in front of you.
* Jacob Posen and Seamus Butler – student volunteers for you to compare yourself to!

Open to anyone who needs to know more about writing! Enter and leave whenever you want as long as you do it quietly.

I have to hand it to Dr. Maitzen and colleagues for sheer bravery. I wonder whether this is one of those situations where the mere fact of being observed will change the process under observation. I like to think that I’d be more industrious if I knew someone was watching me. But maybe the Orwellian nature of being under constant surveillance would make me a sneakier procrastinator? It would feel very strange to have to carry an actual, physical deck of cards, but I could smuggle them in with my note cards* and sort of hunch over the desk to hide the solitaire from the audience. That would probably work if all that was being projected was my computer screen.

*Probably the mere fact that I still use note cards means the jig is up insofar as my techno-cred is concerned.