Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

We often make the assumption that thinking leads to writing, but Hunt makes the argument that the opposite is true: writing leads to thinking. In reference to the process of writing, Hunt explains, “You think something you did not know you could or would think and it leads you to another thought almost unbidden.” Writing uncovers ideas that were hidden deep inside our minds and souls. I even notice this with my own writing. As I sit down to write this blog post, I feel my fingers move to type a word before my mind has time to think. Now, this may be due to my speedy typing, but I’d also like to think that my writing is ahead of the game, and my thought process is simply trailing behind.

This article echoes the Minor in Writing in many ways. After attending only two classes of Writing 220, I can already see connections between the article’s claims and our class readings, discussions and exercises. For instance, the article makes many of the same points that Lamott makes in “Shitty First Drafts.” Hunt makes note of “the terror of the blank page or the empty computer screen in front of you,” just as Lamott talks about allowing yourself to write an incomprehensible sequence of words on paper just for the sake of filling a page. The inspiration we desperately seek will not magically appear through a window, written in calligraphy on a scroll and carefully placed between a dove’s feet. In fact, this inspiration might not come to us until it’s already written on paper. Lamott seems to agree, as she explains, “Very few writers even know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”

This article also makes reference to reverse engineering. Hunt encourages the reader to constantly question, reflect and analyze the writing that he or she reads. Why did that particular phrase make you feel a certain way? What about that passage resonates with you? Can you uncover the author’s thought process? How can you emulate the author’s writing in your own work?

Finally, Hunt speaks to the revision process. One of the fundamental goals of the Minor in Writing is to encourage its students to grow as writers through the practice of revision. As Minor in Writing students, we will challenge ourselves (and be challenged by our professors!) to be more open-minded, flexible and forgiving with our writing. We will find unexpected beauty in abandoned pieces of writing. Just as a fresh set of eyes can help with revision, time is arguably more effective. If you step away from a piece of writing for a long period of time, you will likely come back to it with a different perspective and greater insight. We will able to practice this form of revision with Major Project 1: Re-purposing an Argument. We will “weed and thin” (as Hunt puts it) an original source until it is better suited for our audience, has a clearer purpose, and is something we are proud of. Lastly, Hunt stresses the importance of moving backward in order to more forward. Revision is not a linear process; in fact, it sometimes isn’t even a recognizable shape. It is a convoluted, strenuous and sometimes stressful process, but the end result is worth every bead of sweat.

Hunt’s article reminds me of an experience I had with writing not too long ago. She talks about the inevitable anxiety that most writers feel when their writing is visible to the world. I still remember feeling anxious after submitting my first blog post to a student-run magazine on campus. While my involvement with the magazine has helped me overcome this fear, I still have a long way to go. The Minor in Writing ePortfolio will encourage me to showcase not only my samples of writing, but also my growth as a writer. I am inspired to believe in my writing and own it with pride.

As Hunt says, “Learning to write well is a lifelong endeavor,” and the Writing in Minor program is yet another exciting step along the way.

3 thoughts to “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back”

  1. Hi Mel!
    First of all, I really appreciated all of the in text quotations you included in this post! I think you really brought everything together beautifully and made it very easy for us to understand and relate to. What I really loved the most was what you mentioned about being more open-minded, flexible, and forgiving with our writing. In my post, I discussed something very similar! I think my biggest flaw when it comes to writing is stressing about how intellectual I sound in comparison to my peers. It is definitely important to be more open-minded and forgiving with ourselves, because we are all creative and authentic in our own way. I also like what you said about discovering beauty in abandoned work. I’m really excited to not only do that for myself, but see what everyone else does as well! Also, out of curiosity, what was the magazine you wrote for here? Sounds interesting! Good luck with everything!

  2. My favorite focus in this post is on the terrifying blank page that lies in front of each writer before he/she begins. We all know that feeling, sitting down to write a long paper and wondering how on earth 8 pages will materialize in front of you. Yet somehow it does, and I like how you focused on the fact that it has to come from within you. No outside source will help you along the way, you simply have to muster the guts to start trying. Thanks for the thoughts 🙂

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