Letter to Future Gateway Students

Dear Future Gateway Students,

First, I want to say congratulations on being accepted into the Minor in Writing! You have made a great choice to pursue your passion for and interest in writing. If you breathe writing, sleep with your journal under your pillow, or dream of having a career as a writer, great. If you have only written when you are told to for a class, struggle tremendously with starting an essay every time you try, and don’t really know much about writing in general, even greater. The Gateway course will help you explore what writing means to you, and give you time to be the kind of writer that feels most natural. It is a time for learning, reflecting, and growing as a writer– all of which you get to do with an awesome teacher and a group of talented classmates who are there with you on your journey.

After taking this course, I have learned that I worry a lot more about being “perfect” the first time I sit down to write than I should. Whether it be a short answer to a question, a blog post, or a full-blown essay, I used to be so concerned with getting it exactly right on the first try. However, one of the biggest takeaways that I have from this course is that an imperfect draft is key. Nothing you write should be perfect the first time, because it is through the first draft that you learn exactly what you want to write and how you feel about what you are writing. The first draft is not all about producing something you are proud of and immediately feel satisfied with. It is about giving yourself something to work with, figuring out what’s in your head, and then going from there. It’s only a starting point.

During the course, I felt the most challenged when it came time to decide on a piece to re-purpose. I was between two pieces that were very different– one was about a dance teacher who pushed me to work hard through tough love, and the other was about a special place in Canada that I go to every summer with my family. I really had no idea which to choose, because I knew that each would take me in a different direction. However, with the help of my blog group and teacher, Shelley, I took a leap and decided on the one that seemed to speak to me the most.

I am most surprised at the progress we all have made during the course. We started writing short, brief answers to questions and blog posts, and have since then been able to develop three separate major projects that make up our ePortfolio. I was quite overwhelmed when I learned about everything that this course would require us to do, but since we took it step by step, it was manageable. I am also surprised at how close I have gotten with my blog group and how helpful they have been. I have never had such a successful, cohesive group in a class before, and am thankful for them.

Some practical advice now… First, stay on top of your assignments during the course. You will learn that everything you do contributes to the final projects in the end, so you will be thankful that you completed everything on time and with thought. Also, take advantage of your blog group. Be honest about what you are struggling with, concerned with, or have questions about.

If I was starting the course over again, I would try writing the re-purposing version of both pieces I was considering. I still wonder how my piece about the dance teacher would have turned out. However, I am happy with the way my project has turned out, and will keep my other topic idea in mind for future writing projects.

What is so special about this course is that it allows you to uncover what is truly in your heart and mind as a writer. You will realize through this course that much of the writing that has happened so far in your college career has not allowed much room for creativity or exploration. In this class, you have time to write and worry and change and think and change again. This course is for you, as a writer. That is, the kind of writer that you are, and not the kind that anyone else requires you to be.

Enjoy it!



One thought to “Letter to Future Gateway Students”

  1. Hi Melony,
    Thank you for taking the time to offer this advice! As someone who also struggles with feeling like I need to write a perfect draft on my first try, I’m glad to know there’s hope. I also felt a little overwhelmed upon hearing just how much we would accomplish by the end of the semester, so thank you for letting me know that it is very doable. Your tips are very helpful. Thanks again!

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