Good morning, everyone! I would like to present the summary of work I've done by now on my research project to look into expertise in creative writing. More importantly, I'm going to share with you the procedure I underwent to collect my interim findings.
At first, I think certain relevant background information about myself should be known to you all. Before I started my current degree course in cognitive psychology,
I studied English literature. And as you can imagine, this meant I spent great deal of time thinking about the notion of creativity, and what makes people develop into successful writers.
However, the idea for this research project resulted from a very specific source. I became fascinated with the idea of what makes an expert creative writer.
When I read a well-known twentieth century writer's autobiography. I won't say which one at this stage, because I think that might prejudice your interpretation...
anyway, this got me thinking about the different routes to expertise. Specifically, I wondered why some people become experts at things whilst others failed to do so, in spite of the fact that they may be equally gifted and work equally hard.
I started to read about how other researchers had explored similar questions in other fields. I began to see a pattern, that those studies which involves researching a lab was too controlled for my purpose, and I decided to avoid reading them.
I was quite surprised to find that the clearest guidance for my topic came from investigations into what I call practical skills, as such as hairdresser or waiting tables. Most of these studies tended to use a similar set of procedures which I eventually adopted for my own project.
I'll now explain what these procedures were. I decided to compare what inexperience writers do with what experience writers do. In order to investigate this, I looked for 4 people whom I regarded as real novelists in this field, which proved easy, perhaps unsurprisingly.
It proved much harder to locate people with suitably extensive experience, who are willing to take part in my study. I asked the first four to do a SAT writing task and as they wrote to talk into a tape recorder, a technique known as 'think aloud'.
This was in order to get experimental data. Whilst they were doing this, a research assistant recorded them with video. I thought it might be helpful for me and my transcriptions later on.
I then asked four experienced writers to do it exactly the same task, After this, I made a comparison between the two sets of data and this helps me to produce a framework for analysis. In particular, I identify 5 major stages which all creative writing seemed to go through when generating this genre text.
I think it was fairly effective but still needed some work, so I intended to tighten this up later for use with subsequent data sets. And then I wanted to see whether experience writers were actually producing the better pieces of writing.
So I asked an editor, an expert in reviewing creative writing, to decide which were the best pieces of evaluations. I was then able to work out which sequence of the five stages seem to lead to the best writing.
Now my findings are by no means conclusive at this point. I still have a long way to go, but if any of you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them.