Currente cursore: the art of revision in a digital workspace

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


The primary work environment for contemporary writers is digital, yet still very few text-genetic studies focus on digital work processes. (e.g. Vauthier 2016; Fenoglio 2015; Vásári 2019)
Comparing different writers is relatively rare in the field, but important if we want to be able to demonstrate the extent of both individuality and underlying (cognitive) similarities between writers. Working with a keystroke logger allows us to observe and analyse digital writing up close, close enough to follow the cursor and the writer through their draft.
We have invited 11 Dutch-language literary writers to use keystroke logging (Leijten & Van Waes, 2013) while creating short stories, which resulted in a small corpus that will help us to explore the ways in which these writers write and to adjust our methodologies (Bekius 2021) to work with born-digital material.
The digital writing space has specific affordances, such as unlimited room for revisions and a 'clean' looking document, regardless of how much it has been altered. From studies into the processes of academic writing it is becoming clear that around 60 % of all textual changes to a draft take place within the sentence that is currently being produced (Mahlow et al 2022, Bowen & Van Waes 2020 ) suggesting writers make use of the endless 'space' the digital page offers by 'trying on' different options while composing. Naturally, they also revise other parts of their work-in-progress.
Using a narratological taxonomy, we have classified all text changes made by three writers from our corpus: Ellen Van Pelt, Roos van Rijswijk and Jens Meijen. Additionally, the location of these text changes has also been assessed. What kind of changes are made during the production of new sentences? Is it possible to interpret these 'currente cursore' revisions at all, or are they too fragmentary? And how do revision strategies differ between these writers?

Bekius, Lamyk. “The Reconstruction of the Author’s Movement Through the Text, or How to Encode Keystroke Logged Writing Processes in TEI-XML.” Variants, no. 15–16 (July 1, 2021): 3–43.
Bowen, Neil, and Luuk Van Waes. “Exploring Revisions in Academic Text: Closing the Gap Between Process and Product Approaches in Digital Writing.” Written Communication 37, no. 3 (July 2020): 322–64.
Fenoglio, Irène. “From Writing under Production to the Finished Product.” Writing at the Crossroad(s), 2015, 127–50.
Leijten, Mariëlle, and Luuk Van Waes. “Keystroke Logging in Writing Research: Using Inputlog to Analyze and Visualize Writing Processes.” Written Communication 30, no. 3 (July 1, 2013): 358–92.
Mahlow, Cerstin, Malgorzata Anna Ulasik, and Don Tuggener. “Extraction of Transforming Sequences and Sentence Histories from Writing Process Data: A First Step towards Linguistic Modeling of Writing.” Reading and Writing, January 1, 2022.
Varasi, Melinda, Pál. “Securing the Literary Evidence.” In Philology in the Making, 94, 2019.
Vauthier, Bénédicte. “Genetic Criticism Put to the Test by Digital Technology: Sounding out the (Mainly) Digital Genetic File of El Dorado.” Variants, no. 12–13 (December 31, 2016): 163–86.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023
EventGenesis 2023: The draft and its environs - Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 28 Sept 202329 Sept 2023


ConferenceGenesis 2023: The draft and its environs
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China
Internet address


  • writing process
  • keystroke logging
  • revision
  • literary writing


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