Revise, Revise, Revise

In high school we were able to retake exams for math classes. I was so opposed to this, mostly because I would study really hard and get a B+ on a calc exam but I would feel a guilty pull to study again and retake it simply because I could. Everyone else would of course redo the test, so I would be behind if I didn’t as well. It didn’t make sense to me… why put any effort into the first exam when I knew I could just see what kind of questions would be on the test and then study only that material for the retake? Just another instance where high school failed at preparing me for the “real world.”

My professor for a PoliSci class last year set a date for one of our papers. I agonized over this piece until 3 a.m. the morning it was due. When I got to class – surprise! – we were going to peer edit during class and then turn in our final versions two days later. The teacher thought she was doing everyone a big favor, but we all literally groaned. Seriously, a collective mumbling of “ugh are you serious” made the teacher step back. We passed our papers around, realized how many mistakes we had made and what improvements could be implemented. I was thankful ultimately that we had a chance to shore some things up before we turned it in, but honestly the last thing I wanted to do was look at that paper again until it had a pen mark in red telling me what my grade was.

That being said, every time, and I mean every time, a teacher allows me to revise a paper, I take advantage of the opportunity. I sometimes end up with a better grade, but I think it’s mostly a really good chance to actually be forced to reflect on my paper (things I liked, things I noticed about my writing that weren’t so favorable, etc.). If I know I don’t have to revise a paper, I’m so much less likely to read the instructors comments in depth, digest them, and make changes in my future writing. It’s so silly of me to not do that in the first place, but for some reason it’s a habit of mine. Does anyone else get like this?

 

Top Five Worst Parts About Revision: 

  1. The moment when you cringe while reading a paper you’ve already turned in and realizing that you made a grammar mistake. 
  2. Looking at comments from professors and kicking yourself for not thinking of their suggestions the first time around.
  3. It is more work. Plain and simple. 
  4. It just completely defies the logical, “there are no redoes in life” concept that I have had drilled into my head from years of school. 
  5. You thought you were done with the paper. Then you have to actually open it back up on your computer, re-read it, identify what went wrong, and then revise it. Is that a cruel joke? 

 

Justification for Revision: You don’t just learn the material you need to write the paper, you learn how to improve your writing as well.

Re-re-re-revise

This semester I have learned an incredible amount on revisions. I am also enrolled in English 325, Art of the Essay in which we spend a lot of time workshopping and making revision suggestions for each other and ourselves. I’ve always viewed the revision process as a time to make the grammatical changes and suggestions from my teacher in my paper and leave it at that. I was very wrong.

One of the most important things that I have learned in my revision process is focusing in on the theme and even changing it. I wrote a paper for my 325 class about my physical ailment of a lazy eye and wearing glasses. The first draft I explored different ideas of lazy eyes. In my second draft I changed my idea entirely to circling the idea of glasses in society. I used my personal experiences as well as pop culture to explain how different people see glasses.

My revision process created nearly an entirely new paper that I was so proud of. It takes a really long time to get your thoughts organized and drafts are ways that you get closer and closer to a narrowed idea. I also spent a lot of time scratching outlines throughout my writing.

I’ve learned the revision process is incredibly important.

Thoughts on Revision

So this week I was a little confused and turned in a revision of my Re-Purposing paper, instead of the Why I Write revision that was due.  Luckily I’ll still be able to make revisions once the comments for that paper are returned, but I actually thought it was interesting what I found while revising my paper last weekend.

What I actually did for this paper was set it aside for a long time (I really hadn’t looked at it in depth since I turned it in) and then came back to it in order to do revisions.  Now, I’m sure this is actually what many of you do for papers, especially since I remember my teachers since high school explaining what we should use this strategy to gain a fresh perspective on our own papers.  However, I can honestly say that I’ve never done something like this.  I always rush to revise and feel like it’s better to get everything done at once — which really isn’t that helpful the more I think about it.  After going back last weekend and reading through the paper again, I found myself agreeing with some comments and having a clear enough mind to answer some of my questions that I had.  I also found myself being a little to critical I felt at times, with different features like tone sounding good to me after some time away from the piece.  I really couldn’t believe how much clearer my mind felt after not thinking about the essay for about a month!

I am really this late to the game?  Is this a strategy that mostly everyone uses?  I can’t believe that as a junior in college I am just now figuring out that this can be a really helpful tool for revision!  I hope that in the future I can continue to keep this up and practice this skill in different ways with papers and assignments… it was a really interesting thing to learn as I revised this paper!

Tech Challenge – Changing Fonts

I’ve been working with Tumblr for my Remediation project and have been frustrated that I couldn’t control every aspect of my theme’s design, especially the fonts because they were chunky and italicized and awful. The things I wanted to change were all in HTML/CSS/something I don’t understand, so I went to the Tech Deck earlier this week for help.

I had a few problems finding someone who could help me with coding (so if anyone needs help with this in the future I would suggest going to the Tech Deck far before the project due date), but once I found the right person it went pretty smoothly!

The girl I worked with was extremely helpful. She explained a little about coding and showed me how to find and change what I wanted. She also helped me understand how the code works and affects different parts of the webpage.

It’s nice to know more of what goes into making a website – it’s a lot more complicated than drag-and-drop sites like Wix or Weebly would have you believe.

Though I can’t code for myself, I’m sure that understanding some of the basics will be a useful life skill. It also helped me get the perfect look for my Remediation project!

For Minors: Great & Cool Writing Opportunity, Life in Letters

Hi!!!!

For those of you not in my writing section, I work for the Center for Campus Involvement and one of my co-workers is putting on a really awesome event called Life in Letters.

It is a great chance to write something different and that you can be creative with and have them read out loud at the event. Here are all the details and feel free to contact Jasmine with any questions!!

 

Topics:

  • Love letter to a significant other
  • Warm letter to a family member
  • Description of an dramatic event in your life
  • Description of an important memory from childhood

 

Prompt :

Use these various topics and extensive detail to write a letter! These letters will be read and if chosen will be re-enacted by UofM Theater Majors at an event in January. There may be a brief discussion after each letter on the emotions expressed in writing and captured during re-enactment. This discussion may be in a comparison and contrast format.

Please keep the letters at a PG-13 please! So this means no extreme explicit content.

 

Due Date :

Please email me your letter by Friday December 13, 2013 by 6:00pm.

Email address is jasmjohn@umich.edu

 

ePortfolios, Finals, and Beaches

Finals. Isn’t it funny how the word “sin” is in there if you move around some letters and ignore most of the other ones?

Reflecting back, this semester has really come full circle. Welcome Week I got a lot of headaches and they are all starting to come back (maybe for different reasons).

Another shining example of the finale of this semester is my ePortfolio. Rereading all of my work from Writing 220 has been interesting. Writing as a process has become so evident in all of my proposals, outlines, and drafts. My ideas have wandered further than my expectations for any Michigan athletic team this year, and the journey is truly amazing (in regards to writing not sports.)

The theme of my ePortfolio, Life is a Beach. Bitch, I meant Bitch, accurately encompasses each of my pieces for this course. My Why I Write incorporates my tweets of the past, most of which describe unfortunate situations that were not funny at the time, but are hilarious to look back on. My Remediation is a satirical newspaper that criticizes ridiculous things people do at the University of Michigan. Finally, my Repurposing project, in collaboration with Beixi, includes strangers’ reflections on past mistakes. Each piece uniquely intertwines some reason for why life sometimes sucks. However, they also stress the importance of not taking life too seriously and allowing yourself to take humor out of every situation.

Feel free to check out the progress of my ePortfolio here.

And try not to stress out too much this holiday, I mean finals, season. Make life your beach!

Surprise! There’s More

Working on my remediation project, an anonymous twitter, I have realized there is a lot more that goes into being an anon account than I thought. A LOT. Here I am thinking I’ll tweet everyday and tell people about my experience and advice when I forgot to think about one very important thing: what people?

I’ve been making a serious plug to follow more people and get more followers. I’m still working on it, but I realized that I have these engrained social norms for twitter that I gained through my personal account and they’re hard to break out of. For example, on my personal account I don’t like to follow more people than follow me. However on a rising anon account, that’s the way you have to get more followers. Similarly, I don’t like to follow people that I wouldn’t have a conversation with. Definitely not the case here.

Another element that I came across was that I am not just Young Professional on twitter. The other technologies that I use have to be under the same persona. For example, I use Polyvore a lot on my twitter to show fashion and beauty options. I originally was just using my personal polyvore account, but then I realized the links I was posting went back to an account that was inconsistent. So I had to create a Young Professional Polyvore account as well.

It’s been an interesting ride!

Untitled

A Look at Revision

“Whatever… I’d rather just write a really, really good first draft and then I’ll barely have any more work to do…”

This is how I would categorize my thoughts on revision for a large portion of my life, and while maybe it worked in high school…not so much anymore. I’ve come to understand that there is always revision to be done, and more importantly revision is more than just “cleaning up” or “polishing”. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of this class, but I’ve definitely spent more time revising in Writing 220, and the nature of my revisions have been much more in depth. I haven’t been as afraid to completely rework and argument or add in a whole new idea. I’ve also learned how important it is not to get so attached to a draft.

A couple of things I’ve found extremely helpful about the revision process in Writing 220:

1. Self Reflective Comments – they really help in taking a step back from your own work and reading it in a different way. It’s nice to be able to leave the instructor notes, ask questions, defend why you made certain decisions, and acknowledge where you still need to strengthen an argument or clarify your ideas.

2. No Final Drafts – it’s a simple change in wording, but I honestly think that the use of “first draft” and “second draft” make a difference. When I turn in a final draft in a class I have this feeling that my work is done and it is what it is. Yet in this class there is no sense of “final”. Even the draft we turn in to be graded can still be revised and reworked.

3. Peer Workshops – maybe it’s simply because I’ve never peer reviewed a website or a video before, but I feel like the peer workshops in this class have a different feel to them. We focus less on minor grammatical or structural issues and more on the big picture.

I will admit, I don’t always find revising to be the most enjoyable part of writing. It’s hard, frustrating, and often a slow process. Yet when I look back at the entire progression from proposals to storyboarding to first and second drafts, it’s amazing to see how far an idea can come the more we revise it.

 

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

In my opinion, revision has been the most useful part of this class. Revision has taught me the most about how to become a better writer. Revision feels refreshing; it feels like clarity. It feels as though I am truly learning something. Picture yourself sitting in a large lecture hall, quickly scribbling down everything your professor says out loud. Although you do not know what she is saying, or what her words mean, you keep writing. You write down every word, every definition, and every side note she makes, trying your best not to miss a beat. But is this truly learning? I think not. I think true learning is being proactive and interactive. It is thinking about our own thinking. It is working with our writing as if we are working with a partner, colleague, or friend.

Revision allows us to take our own work, and improve it. It allows us to take what we had once wrote, and reorganize our thoughts. It makes room for cohesion, for clarity, and for change- good change. This semester, I have learned that revision is nothing less than a great thing. Particularly, in revising my Why I Write essay, I was able to pinpoint the weaknesses in my argument. I was better able to see what outside readers could not. I learned ways to improve my style, strengthen my thesis, and further build upon imagery and emotion when necessary. It was not until after I had finished revising the essay that I was better able to see where I went wrong in the first place.

When tackling the revision process, I suggest removing yourself from your work. Do not think about what you like about your paper, or what you think are the best parts of your paper. Instead, have the opposite mindset: What in your paper can be improved? Where are there gaps? How can your argument be strengthened? Thinking critically in this way is what will get you the best results.

photo_6976_carousel