Writing is an active thinking process, a way to develop new knowledge for yourself. Your teachers will deliberately create various occasions for learning new subject matter through writing. For example, you might be asked to keep a journal, write a financial analysis, present a formal argument, create a mission statement, perform a strategic analysis, or even write your own case study. As you write about your subject—describing it from as many angles as you can think of, comparing it to other knowledge you have, tracing its history, and discovering its relationships to other subject matter—you are helping your mind to work. As you write, you are recording how your mind works and stimulating your thoughts and ideas. The written record of your thinking becomes part of your new knowledge.
In addition to creating new knowledge, writing can help you explore and discover problem-solving strategies. As you progress in your academic specialization, you will be expected to address more complex problems associated with learning new subject matter. For example, you might be asked to address the issue of whether global warming is actually occurring. You could be asked to critically evaluate the unemployment statistics posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You could also be asked to decide the feasibility of starting a new business in an international setting. Because these issues require more complex reasoning, you will find that "thinking in writing" about these problems facilitates your efforts to find solutions.
Although college writing assignments differ somewhat in emphasis from your workplace writing, the methods and strategies these assignments teach you will be useful in your workplace writing. For this reason, this guide focuses on college writing. Fortunately, the processes writers follow enable successful writing in many different environments. In chapter 2, you will discover some of these writing processes that will work for you in college and in everyday writing as well.