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A Writer's Inventory

Evaluating Your Attitudes Toward Writing


A Writer's Inventory

As discussed in the article The Write Attitude and Your Writing Goals, the way we feel about writing both affects and reflects how well we can write. The questionnaire that follows will give you a chance to examine your attitudes toward writing.

TIP: To view this questionnaire without ads, click on the printer icon near the top of the page.

After printing out the questionnaire, respond to each statement below by marking it A, B, or C:

A. I agree.
B. I am unsure or indifferent.
C. I disagree.
Respond to the statements thoughtfully and honestly. Your aim isn't to impress an instructor but to achieve a deeper understanding of your writing habits and attitudes. At the end of the questionnaire, you'll find out how to evaluate your responses.

Your Writing: Public and Private

___ 1. I enjoy writing.

___ 2. The only time I write is when I'm required to.

___ 3. Writing something well gives me a sense of satisfaction.

___ 4. I don't think I write as well as most other people do.

___ 5. I sometimes write just for myself--to express my feelings or think out problems on paper.

___ 6. Having to write makes me nervous or afraid.

Your Background in Writing
Answer questions 7 through 10 only if you're still in high school or if you graduated from high school within the past four years.

___ 7. I wish I had been made to do more writing in school.

___ 8. My teachers in school put a lot of emphasis on good writing skills.

___ 9. In school I was required to write at least one essay or composition every week or two.

___ 10. Recent high school graduates should not be required to take writing courses in college.

Answer questions 11 through 14 only if it has been more than four years since you graduated from high school.

___ 11. My writing skills have gotten rusty over the years.

___ 12. One reason I have stayed out of college has been my fear of having to write.

___ 13. Although I haven't studied writing recently, I have kept up my skills by writing on the job or at home.

___ 14. Older students should not be required to take writing courses in college.

The Value of Writing

___ 15. I don't see the value of taking a writing course in college.

___ 16. The ability to write well will help me succeed in many college courses.

___ 17. In college, only English instructors care about good writing.

___ 18. I would rather take an objective test (multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blanks) than an essay examination.

___ 19. I try to avoid taking classes with instructors who give writing assignments (essays, reports, term papers).

___ 20. Writing a paper helps me understand a subject better than memorizing facts for an objective test.

___ 21. Once I get out of college, I don't think it will matter very much how well I can write.

"Good" Writing

___ 22. The ability to write well is a gift a person must be born with: either you've got it or you don't.

___ 23. Being a good writer primarily involves knowing the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

___ 24. A good piece of writing should contain lots of difficult words and long sentences.

___ 25. Even experienced writers often have to work hard to make the words come out just right.

___ 26. A piece of writing can often be improved by reading it over, thinking about it, making changes, and writing it over again.

The Writing Process

___ 27. I usually don't like to reread something I've written.

___ 28. When I'm given a writing assignment, my mind often goes blank and I have trouble getting started.

___ 29. I write very slowly because I spend a lot of time worrying about correct grammar and spelling.

___ 30. When I sit down to write, I usually have plenty of good ideas, but I often have trouble putting those ideas into words.

___ 31. If I have enough time, I usually rewrite a paper (sometimes several times) until I'm satisfied with it.

___ 32. I like to show my writing to others for advice on how to improve it.

___ 33. I usually try to write a perfect paper the first time so I won't have to go back and rewrite it.

___ 34. If I take the time and make the effort, I can usually improve something I've written.

Evaluating Your Responses and Shaping a Positive Attitude

Now, in reviewing your responses to this questionnaire, how would you define your overall attitude toward writing? What matters isn't whether you think you're a good writer or a bad one but the extent to which you're willing to work to become a better writer.

If you're convinced that good writing skills are unimportant or beyond your reach, you may lack the motivation to become a better writer. On the other hand, if you recognize the value of good writing skills and want to improve your own, you're ready to learn.

The best way to get started (and to learn more about the issues raised in the questionnaire) is to read these five short articles:

One final suggestion. Consider taking this questionnaire again at the end of your composition course. You may be surprised to find out how some of your attitudes have changed.

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