I think the list of things about writing that I know I “should” do but sometimes (or often) don’t do could go on forever. But something I have come to appreciate, especially after beginning this minor, is the beauty in how much freedom writing truly gives me. If I want to write in all CAPITALS, bold every other word, or have line breaks
times, I can.
And that is a great feeling. Even the fact that I just began that sentence with the word “and” is something I was always taught to never do. I think my tendency to break the rules of writing has increased since beginning the Gateway course–and I am very grateful for this. That being said, there are still instances where I know I should be writing in a certain way, but still do not do so. One example that comes to mind is the “he or she” rule. Rather than writing something like, “someone does what they want to do,” I know it should read, “someone does what he or she wants to do.” But unless it looks or sounds completely ridiculous, I still sometimes include a “they” here and there instead. Oops.
Something less grammatical that I tend to do but probably shouldn’t is planning out every detail of my essay/assignment. It is definitely good to have an outline and clear idea of where a piece of writing will go, but the organizational freak in me always seems to appear when I sit down to write and takes this notion to a whole new level. People are always saying to just sit down and write, let the magic happen, but that is way too risky for me. I like to plan out the definite structure and content, even including the exact quotes from sources that I will use. I think I do this because it makes me feel more sure of my writing. Even if I veer off from my original plan, at least I was following some sort of plan in the first place. But, I still do want to try and just sit down and let the words flow from my mind for a piece of writing in the near future!
When I am asked for advice about writing, I often suggest to others that they read their writing out loud to help catch grammar mistakes or parts where the structure just isn’t working. But I often do not practice what I preach. It seems I never set aside time to read my writing out loud before submitting it or declaring myself finished. I don’t really know why I avoid this task. I think I would rather stay in my head when I write–it’s a little scary to hear your own words read aloud for the first time. But even just from writing this blog post I know I really should listen to my own advice. Maybe this prompt had a hidden agenda? Either way, for my next piece of writing I plan on reading it aloud as the first step in my revision process.