My Writing Style

I thought it was really interesting to go back and examine/analyze my style of writing for this blog from not only a recent essay, but comparatively to my first year of undergrad.  I began by looking at a paper I wrote in English 325 this summer semester, an investigative paper on why much of the world has become so obsessed with celebrities, and the British Royal Family in particular (I am obsessed with Will, Kate, and baby George!).  I feel like my style for this paper shows how far I’ve come in my academic writing over the past two years, and the growth is something that I appreciate.

All throughout high school and even during my freshman year, I wrote with the intention to make a point and use as many big words or cited examples as possible to “persuade” my audience and sound sophisticated.  To this day, I always sit down and map out what I want to say and with what examples I will use to support those claims in an outline for essays.  It helps me to organize my ideas and basically reassures me that the paper will flow and make sense.  I’m also the type of person that has to write my essay in order from start to finish — I can’t skip the introduction and come back to write it later because I use the introduction to help set my tone and structure for my thoughts.  This can be helpful, but incredibly irritating at times.

As far as style goes, I notice that even today I am EXTREMELY verbose.  I also use lots of punctuation that is really hard to follow, and especially in workshop groups I am often called out on it.  I think that at times I still equate wordiness to sophistication, which I know  does not correlate.  Lots of times (okay, majority of the time) much of that punctuation could be deleted and my sentences cut up into nice, easy to follow thoughts, but I find myself stubborn when faced with breaking down my writing and wording it differently — which is something I really want to work on.  I tend to just lead into topic sentences and thought with broad, generic phrases like “in the world…” or “it is widely known…”, which I usually fall back on, and which make my argument much weaker because of their lack of specificity.  Also, much like Rosenwasser and Stephen talk about in this week’s reading, my sentences also neatly wrap up at the end of each paragraph, most likely using the words “thus,”  “as far as…” and “as a result…”, which could be changed up a bit to add a little stylistic diversity.

From freshman year to this summer though, the difference in seeing my attempts to add a bit of creative prose into my essays has definitely come a long way.  Before, I was very uncomfortable using “I” or anything personal in my essays for fear of sounding narcissistic or unprofessional.  I have found however, that this style can help connect to the audience and bring an essay some life.  It’s something I’d like to explore more of stylistically, both balancing the personal with the academic, as well as developing more of a voice and tone in general in my writing, to avoid just blending in to the topic.

Why I Write Response

“I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development.”

So I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what to think about reading an essay on why someone writes.  It was something that I’ve never thought about either I guess, so I just assumed that people write because they want to — they have something to say.  And in a sense, I think this is true too, at least for me, Orwell, and Didion.  I really enjoyed both essays we read, but Orwell’s in particular stuck out to me at the real depth and development that he put into writing about his experiences with writing as a child.  I can relate — I went through that phase where I just write about anything and make it into a book, and I obsessively “published” (at home) a bi-weekly informal newsletter for my friends to laugh at — and that really appealed to me in the sense that Orwell’s writing was accessible.  It’s something I’m striving towards in developing a more creative approach to essays and writing.  Also, I felt that Orwell was boldly blunt but still engaging, (who wants to be called “vain” and “lazy”?) which is really refreshing and reassuring in a piece of writing.  The way that he was able to be honest with himself, touching at times, and still pretty informative was impressive.  I’d say Orwell’s essay was my favorite of the two.

I did like Didion’s essay as well for a different reason — her perspective.  I was amazed and a bit confused by the way that she says she writes (coming up with a scene or picture and going from there), and thought it was really interesting to read about.  I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious though with her “process”… the control freak in me always needs to outline my argument and write with a goal in mind.  Is this a good thing?  I’m not very sure.  But it’s honestly the only way that I’ve ever written.  Reading Didion’s essay, no matter how odd it seemed to me, actually is making me want to try writing her way, and focusing on the specific details that I see around me.  Maybe it would help me creatively?  I guess we’ll see.  I definitely liked reading about both hers and Orwell’s processes — they’ve given me some interesting things to think about… especially when it comes to my own writing and process.