This article applies socio-cultural theories to explore how differences in essay writing experience are constituted for a group of students identified as dyslexic. It reports on a qualitative study with eleven student writers, seven of whom are formally identified as dyslexic, from the schools of archaeology, history and philosophy in a 'traditional' UK university. Semi-structured interviews before, during and after writing a coursework essay revealed well-documented dyslexia-related difficulties and also strong differences in how writing was experienced. The multiple and fluid dimensions that construct these differences suggest the importance of position within the context, previous and developing writing and learning experience, and metacognitive, meta-affective and metalinguistic awareness. They also suggest tensions between specialist and inclusive policies in relation to writing pedagogy for students identified as dyslexic.