My experiences with writing this semester have definitely been a mix of ups and downs, but they all ended up rewarding me with huge development as a writer. I started off not having written a proper essay in almost a year, so naturally my writing was a bit rusty, which overwhelmed me at times. I would feel stuck on something as simple as composing an informal blog post, because I struggled to find my voice and natural flow. Once I began drafting the literacy narrative, I faced the same issue –my thoughts were disorganized and my train of thought was difficult to track throughout my writing. This confused me, since I was taking a free-writing approach to drafting. Shouldn’t a free write directly reflect my order of thinking and kick-start my flow of ideas? Alright, so why did most of my nights look like:
The idea that free-writing, followed by revising, would make writing feel more natural to me actually could not have been more untrue. When I write, my mind tends to bounce between ideas faster than I can put them into words. By free-writing without structure, I was making my writing more complicated than it needed to be. While this strategy could work for others, it definitely didn’t work for me. This was one of my first and most important developments as a writer, and it soon led to other realizations about completely different styles of writing. The work done in this course reminded me that personal writing, like narratives and blog posts, shouldn’t neglect structure and planning, while also showing me that more technical styles, like research papers or argumentative essays, shouldn’t become so overwhelmingly structured that they lack natural flow. I think the main focus of my semester was finding this balance in my writing.
Other than that, I’m really grateful for the new things I learned about what makes certain pieces of writing stand out. I remembered learning in high school that proper grammar can really improve the quality of an essay, because you never know if your specific audience will be nit-picky about it (plus, it just makes you sound more professional and boosts your credibility as a writer). Similarly, in WRT 102, I learned so much about how to properly incorporate citations and external data into essays to yield the same effect. This helped me when I faced situations where I had to make my research writing more understandable and enjoyable to read, regardless of my audience. This was just one example of the many rhetorical strategies I had learned to incorporate throughout the year, all which made my writing clearer and boosted my confidence. By the time I began the process of composing the last essay – the researched argument – drafting and revising felt so familiar. It was a breeze.
While I did feel challenged with the actual writing work at the beginning of the year, the assigned readings we mostly had at that time in the semester countered that frustration. Not only did they educate me on the topics we were required to write about, but they also directly offered me examples of good writing. After a long time of feeling like I don’t have any time to leisurely read books, I was reminded of how much reading improves your writing, and writing often helps you appreciate what you read a lot more. I was lucky enough to already be interested in the topics covered in the readings, which were literacy and education (I focused on these for my I-search and researched argument). Reading other people’s essays made me feel less like I was suddenly thrown back into writing after months of not doing it seriously.
Through the material covered and work done in this course, I definitely feel like I’ve expanded my limits with writing. I discovered a lot about myself as a writer and how I should communicate with my audience, while also learning how to make my writing technically better. Most importantly, I’ve been encouraged to further pursue writing as a minor and make more time to read. I’m just waiting for finals to be over so I can start checking books I’m interested in off of my reading list, some even related to the topics I examined research on during the year. I have a newfound appreciation for the writing process, which had always seemed a bit tedious for a procrastinator like me. Whether I’m reading other people’s writing or working on my own, I’m more aware of the process and effort it took to get to the finished product, and I have a better relationship with this process and effort. I hope the future writing courses I take teach me just as much, if not more, than this class. Thanks for a great semester, and good luck to everyone!