The Over Halfway Point

The semester is over halfway through, and at this point, our capstone class projects should be fairly developed! In class yesterday, we took time to pause from our projects and reflect on our personal writing characteristics. Optimally, we would be able to connect the aspects that characterize our writing at its best to its capstone projects. Below, the questions we were tasked to answer:

1. What characterizes your writing at its best?

I think a lot of times my best writing is what comes out of the “shitty first draft” very rough original draft. If I prevent myself from just writing without much thought, I spend too much time filtering myself to make sentences sound just right. Sometimes when I do that my writing ends up reading way too contrived. When I keep it simple and work off of whatever comes to mind first, the outcome is usually pretty insightful and honest.

On the same token, I’ve really come to appreciate the revision process. An interesting element that I could incorporate into my evolutionary essay is that I used to think of revision as almost the same as editing. I would just fix grammar and spelling mistakes and edit sentence structure. Revision takes much more time than that, though. In effective revision, the theme and organization of the piece of writing as a whole gets considered. The writer evaluates how to rearrange or rewrite to make the piece the strongest.

2. How will your project reveal something about you as a writer?

In relation to the above point about revision, I think the fact that I’ve decided to switch gears with my topic and genre at this point in the project reveals somewhat of a sense of humility and thoughtfulness. Although this project is long, I’m trying not to just go through the motions. If it means going back through what I’ve found so far and continually adding research, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Being given the opportunity to write about something we’re actually interested in will hopefully manifest positively in the final product. I hope my passion for and curiosity about mindfulness will be reflected in my personal narrative. I’m also prepared for this essay to reveal some flaws and insecurities about me both personally and in my writing. I’m using some pretty wise, intimidating examples, like Amy Tan and Joan Didion. It’s hard for me to mimic their style and voice while also making it personal, so I think that flaw will come through in my writing. It’s also a topic I am constantly learning about. A wide audience will likely to be able to relate to my piece because I will be writing alongside them.

3. What do you still not know about yourself as a writer?

Ugh, it feels like quite a lot. Sometimes it feels like every time I’m asked to do one of these reflective exercises about my writing, I end up talking about the same aspects of my writing. It’s hard to uncover things about yourself when you’re the only set of eyes. I actually think it would be helpful for other people to pick out some interesting qualities about my writing.

But I am curious about how my voice has developed over the past few years. Like Julia said in class, it’s exhausting and pretty difficult to find ways your writing has developed when you’re just exhausted and worn out of writing. But like her, I also feel like my passion for writing has decreased a little since freshman year. That could just be attributed to the sheer number of similar academic essays I’ve had to write over the past four years. Freshman year, I would write and revise my essays to perfection. Now, between job applications, trying to have a little fun second semester senior year, and an unusually high workload, I feel as though I’ve lost a bit of that passion. It’s been nice to have so much time to work through the capstone project and find what really makes us excited about it.

BONUS: here’s a link to one of the really interesting pieces I found about mindfulness through my research!




Sarah Schuman

Hi! I'm Sarah, from the Chicago area. I write more eloquently with a chai latte by my side.

2 thoughts to “The Over Halfway Point”

  1. Hey Sarah,

    I really liked reading about your attitude towards revision and how that has changed over the years. This certainly seems like an important point to touch on in your evolution essay. One possible technique I think might be interesting would be to start your essay in the style of a “shitty first draft” and, as the narrative progresses, change the style to more revised and nuanced. I’m not exactly sure how this would look, but I imagine the former part of the essay would consist of shorter sentences with blunt, honest language and the latter part would have longer, more complex sentences with nuanced language. This is just a thought and I’m excited to see where you go with it!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I’m glad to see it looks like you’re taking this project in a unique direction – instead of focusing on a specific aspect of your writing that’s changed over the years, you’re considering more broadly how higher education institutions may (in an ironic twist) lead students to burn out and resist writing altogether. I think there’s a lot more to writing development than how well we put words on the page, and I’m excited to see how one’s attitudes toward the craft can be shaped and influenced by outside organizations for better or worse.
    Good luck!

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