Freewrite on Freetalking and Dialoguing as Research Methods

So here we go. Another attempt at freewriting for the next few minutes to see what I can produce.

I just read chapter 7 by Stevens & Cooper. The purpose of the chapter was how reflective writing can be used for your own professional purposes. The authors essentially took the ideas from earlier when they applied it to teaching and gave examples about how beneficial reflective writing can be as a professional. Besides the benefits of relieving stress, they say that engaging in this kind of writing can make you more productive (and better) at writing. I'm hoping that is true. (From some of my previous posts, I can say that it has been motivating and alleviated writing blocks, which leads me to my next point.) The authors also talk about how some individuals use freewriting (one of the authors' mentioned techniques) as a means to clearing their head before they write. So far, that has worked for me and I hope it will continue.

Stevens & Cooper list freewriting, using metaphors, dialogues, writing unsent letters, and creating lists and logs as some techniques (or are they strategies?) for professional writing. I'd like to focus on two: freewriting and dialoguing, as those two descriptions got my brain stirring.

On p. 138 the authors give a description of freewriting - it's supposed to be unedited script written almost as if the words were flowing from you pencil (or in this case my computer). Essentially the purpose is to get words on the page. Freewriting is uncensored. When I read their description and how some use freewriting (for checking in and for clearing the deck), it made me think about my own research and my research techniques.

For my research, one of the data collection tools I used was weekly reflections with my two main participants. During those times, we came together and I let them talk for the most part. I tried not to censor them because I wanted them to talk freely, hoping that the stories the would pour out would offer insight into their experiences, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs (the main foci of my research). I did ask questions, but they weren't scripted. I listed to my participants and asked questions to delve deeper into their thoughts and experiences. The purpose of my questioning was to unearth deeper meaning; it was not intended to control the conversation.

I commented previously in another freewrite about my wondering of my interviewing, and I was thinking that I might term it the reflective interview because my questioning for deeper meaning caused them to reflect on their actions and experiences - an unintended consequence of my research techniques but at the same time acting as a transformational catalyst. (I can get into transformational learning, but part of the catalyst for transformation is the ability to critically reflect on one's assumptions and actions. See my notes on Mezirow 2000).

So reading this chapter made me think about my reflective interviews. I wonder if I could be using a technique of, what I am going to term, freetalking. So what is freetalking? According to my thinking, freetalking is the uncensored ability of allowing words to flow from you as you share your thoughts and experiences with another. (I just removed the word "converse" from that sentence and replaced it with share. Why did I do that? I know - that's an oops in freewriting, but the word converse didn't seem quite right. Converse I'm thinking means two individuals talking - could conversing happen in freetalking? Does conversation happen in freewriting? In some ways, I'm having a conversation with myself right now, so then yes, I would be conversing with myself during freewriting. Can you converse with another during freewriting? Hmm... not sure. I can converse with others after I freewrite because I post to my blog, but I decide what uncensored material gets published. I guess it still remains the question - can you converse in freewriting? If not, would that be a quality or characteristic of freetalking?)

The whole idea of conversation then made me think about another strategy that Stevens & Cooper suggest. The talk about individuals carrying on a dialogue as a writing exercise. The writer can choose with whom they want to converse (oh - there it is - that word converse). The "other" can be alive or an inanimate object. The examples they provide look like a play script where the writer takes turn writing back and forth between herself and the "other." The "other" seems to be wiser because in their examples, the writer often asks the questions and the "other" responds with answers.

So that makes me wonder to what extent I was dialoging in my reflective interviews since the authors suggest that dialoguing is a fantastic reflective tool.

Yes, in some ways I was dialoguing. There were two of us present and we were having a conversation. At first I thought that the participant was the writer and I, the "other", as she shared her story with me, but that would not be true. As I did not answer any questions; I was the question asker. In essence, I then was the writer and my participant was the "other." Together we were having a conversation.

So maybe I wasn't really engaging in freetalking but rather I was dialoguing. How is dialoguing the same and different from writing vs talking? Are there differences?

I don't know. I hadn't thought about that far yet. Instead as I was reading, I was thinking about my concept of freetalking and creating rebuttals for my combination of freetalking and dialoguing; however, this freewrite is making me think that I actually was dialoguing as a research technique.

I wonder if there are any studies or articles about using dialoguing as a method.

Wow - Stevens & Cooper were right once again. I set out to write for five minutes and I just wrote for 13 minutes. I also feel like I cleared my head and I can go on to more writing. Thanks, Stevens & Cooper.