Self-Reflective Comments

I’m not big on revising essays and often find the revision process to be the hardest part of writing. However, I have found that self-reflective comments are a very effective method. I’m so glad I learned about this revision tactic during the intro to the minor in writing course. I recently wrote a paper about dance for my personal essay course and was unsure how to go about reworking the essay and then I remembered how helpful self-reflective comments are.

I reread my essay as if I was a reader and not the writer in order to see it from an outsider’s perspective. I went through my paper and marked every place where I had a question–everything from punctuation to grammar usage to content. I think this will allow me to make more effective revisions the next time I tackle my essay. It’s as if I had another person look over my paper and give me feedback. Using self-reflective comments has been extremely helpful for me as a writer. What do you think about self-reflective comments?

Writing About My Brother, The Comedian

I was eager to start my new personal essay English 325 class this year because I love writing about myself.  Our first essay assignment was to write about a person, any person. I immediately knew who I would write about: my brother Michael, the comedian.  Michael is one-of-a-kind and I have enough stories about him to write an entire novel that would probably sell off the shelves on day one.  He’s just that entertaining.

When I actually sat down at my computer and began to write, I was having major writer’s block. I had so much to say but I didn’t know the perfect way to say it. I wanted to paint a picture of Michael that would leave readers glowing with happiness just to have had the opportunity to see life through Michael’s eyes. At the same time, I wanted to showcase Michael’s little idiosyncrasies and deep thoughts. After reading through some essays written by top writers, I had a better idea of how to write my essay. I began with a scene summary from when Michael was just a small child:

“If you happened to look in the window of my childhood house and saw what my family did for after-dinner entertainment, you might have thought we were exploiting our youngest family member. You would have seen a short and stocky three-year-old boy running around half naked with his belly hanging out playing the air guitar and screaming so loudly to ACDC songs that his face turned a firey shade of red. It’s everyday episodes like these that could easily appear on America’s Funniest Home Videos. But to my family, it’s just part of our crazy, funny life with Michael. You don’t need a week, a day, or even an hour with him to know it’s going to be a good time. Everybody loves Michael.”

I continued to thread the “happy-go-lucky”, living life on the edge story line throughout my paper.  Overall, I’m happy with the first draft of my essay. I think I used great direct scenes and detailed descriptions. However, I feel like the order of my essay is all over the place.  We’re doing a writing workshop in class so hopefully I can get that part straightened out.  I do have to say, I’ve had more fun writing this paper than I’ve had writing any other college essay. I guess personal essays are the perfect format for me!

The Cost of Writing

What is the cost of writing? This is a thought I recently pondered after adding up all of the time I spend writing. Writing is definitely rewarding in the sense that I get to admire the writing of others and take pride in my own writing. However, sometimes writing is exhausting. I’ve been published online and in print but have gotten little to no pay for my hard work.

I did some contract writing for a little bit but then realized it wasn’t worth it. I was writing about things I had no interest in and was only getting paid $7.50 per 500-word article. When I added up the time it took me to complete each article, I was averaging a rate of $2.50/hr. I’d be better off getting a part-time job. I don’t think it’s fair that magazines hire interns for free and give them the same workload as contributors or employees who are getting paid for what they do. Writing is fun, but my time is valuable and I’d love to earn some cash for my work. How can we justify writing so much without pay?

If anyone has advice on how to turn my writing hobby into a paid career, I’d love your advice!

Writing Tests

Interviews are nerve-wracking enough as is. Add in a two- hour-long writing test, and the pressure is on. I’ve recently been interviewing for summer internships and jobs and have had to bring my A game, not only in communicating but also in writing. Good thing I’m a comm major and a writing minor!

The writing tests I’ve received through email haven’t been so bad. They are similar to short answer portions of exams and have required me to research, write, and share new ideas. It was my most recent writing test that really tested my skills. After being interviewed by three different people and showing off some of my published work, I was brought to a computer and shown a nine-page online writing test with a two-hour time limit printed on the screen. I was allowed to use the Internet to help me and was told I could get out my AP stylebook if I brought it. Note to self: always bring your AP stylebook, and if you don’t own one, go buy one.

The writing test started out with three multiple choice questions followed by a free response portion, an editing section, a research portion, and then a writing press release section. It was overwhelming to say the least. Not to mention I had a bad cold and could barely breathe throughout the test. I read through the directions and immediately got to work. Even with Google as a lifeline, I could not figure out one of the multiple choice questions: the deadline for the business section of a newspaper. I felt like I was in a time crunch as I did whatever I could to show off my best work. All I can say is I’m glad it’s over with. I’ll be sure to research AP style better before my next writing test!

Writing Reflections

I didn’t do nearly as much school-related writing this semester as I did last semester. Maybe it’s because I’m taking project-based marketing courses instead of the traditional communications classes that are heavy in writing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of writing for these marketing projects, just no 8-10 page essays. I think I prefer this type of marketing case study writing. I was assigned to compile and edit everything after people researched their individual parts. I think it’s really cool to put together the piece and see how the final product looks.

Aside from this type of writing, I wrote a dance performance reflection, a few mini writing assignments, and a long paper about the double standard for my women’s health class. This last essay took me a while to write, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m just a little worried about the structure of it. I felt like all of my ideas overlapped a lot. I guess we will see when I get my grade back!

I’ve been applying to a lot of internships and as a result writing a lot of cover letters. I love this type of writing because it lets me talk about my strengths. I also wrote numerous articles for Her Campus. I always enjoy writing these articles because I get to write about the college lifestyle. I don’t anticipate much writing for the rest of the semester aside from finishing powerpoints for my projects.

Happy writing everyone!


Writing Contest

For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Erica. I was in the first writing minor cohort last fall. It’s our responsibility to write at least two blog posts every month. This may not seem like a lot, but when you’ve got a million different things to do blogging tends to fall at the bottom of the to-do list.

I wasn’t really sure what to write about this month until I remembered what our syllabus last semester repeatedly said: “write about anything writing related on your mind.” Well, I’m a contributing writer for Her Campus and am in a writing contest to see whose article can get the most new views in the month of February. I thought you–as fellow writing minors and UofM students–would be a great audience for this contest. My article is about frat parties. Whether that’s your cup of tea or not, I hope you enjoy reading my article and exploring the site!

All you have to do is click on the link and it counts as a new view. Right now I’m in the lead and I would absolutely love to win the contest. If I do win, I get a top collegiette writer award–and the best part, a phone call or skype from Seventeen’s social media editor. This could be a great networking opportunity for me.

Thank you!!

Writing About Writing (Literally)

Being a communications major, I don’t do a whole lot of scientific learning. That is until this year when I decided to take Biology of Sex to fulfill my LSA  natural science credits. I thought the class would be fun–bi-weekly sex talks! Sadly, the kind of learning we’ve done thus far doesn’t meet my expectations about the interesting, exciting topic of sex. The lecture is in the lead for my most boring class at UofM. And the worst part is that the professor puts entire paragraphs on the lecture slides, and doesn’t post the slides until after the class.

You may be wondering how this relates to writing…

Well, I have to memorize these BORING concepts somehow so I decided to revert to an old study strategy: flashcards. Some of you are probably regulars when it comes to making flashcards, but I have hardly made any flashcards while in college. I began going through the slides and making flashcards for all of the main vocabulary/ideas when I realized writing out flashcards might actually be a pretty effective study strategy. I wrote the concepts in pink pen (to add some excitement to the boring scientific explanation of mitosis and the like).

Why do I think flashcards are an effective study strategy?

We are almost always writing during exams, not typing on our can’tlivewithout laptops. Even if the exam is scantron, we are still technically “writing”. I think writing out key concepts on flashcards might be advantageous to simply reading powerpoint slides or typing up study guides. Typing might be a more effective study strategy if we were allowed to take our exams on laptops, but since this is not how things work in college (yet, anyways) I’ll stick to my opinion and favorability for the flashcard technique.

What do you think? Have you ever considered the similarity/differences between study tactics and actual exams?


Portfolio Reflection

I am very happy with my ePortfolio. I was able to display my writing pieces, incorporate web 2.0 elements such as Twitter, and pick a theme/color scheme that reflects the real me. I like how I separated my writing portfolio into academic writing and magazine journalism and then divided each section into sub-pages based on subject/ publication. I am happy with the introductions I wrote for each section and am glad I decided to include photos that fit well with each area of my portfolio. I even included videos in certain places and hyperlinks throughout. I figured I would take advantage of the possibilities of new media writing.

I still want to work on the specific organization of my writing samples. I tagged my essays and articles with the same name of the category they are in which could get confusing to some readers. I also included some essays in both the re-mediation and re-purposing category because they relate to both categories, but I am not sure if this was the best way to organize things. Right now, I have a few writing samples from other subjects, but I may want to include more in the future. I would have liked to make the font bigger so everything is easier to read, but I discovered that WordPress isn’t as customizable as people might think. I may end up changing my theme in the future in order to utilize a bigger font size.

Creating this ePortfolio was a fun, relatively easy process for me. This could be because I have already made about 5 blogs/websites on WordPress. I am a blogging expert!  The process did take a lot of time and planning though. I had to design the portfolio, decide which writing samples to include, and figure out how to incorporate my writing into the portfolio in the best way possible. Designing this ePortfolio took a lot of trial-and-error and a lot of patience, both of which paid off.

I think I successfully presented myself as a writer looking for freelance work. By including both academic papers and magazine writing, I was able to show the diversity of my writing. My writing credentials are evident through the links to the writing I’ve done for various online and print publications.

I feel very positive about writing and am optimistic about my future career aspirations after leaving the gateway course. I’m fortunate that we were able to cater the writing assignments in this class to our own interests and purposes. I look forward to archiving my writing and perfecting my ePortfolio as I enter the capstone course.

Goodbye Writing 200; it’s been fun! Good luck with Winter semester everyone!

Writing New Media


As I started brainstorming for my writing new media essay and looked over the list of comparisons we came up with in class, one word jumped out at me (that wasn’t even on the list): freedom. Writing in new media is to freedom as writing in traditional forms is to confinement.

How is new media writing related to freedom?

  • Freedom of choice (the possibilities are endless)
  • Freedom of expression/creativity (multiple modes of expression, more freedom to be creative by incorporating different design elements)
  • Freedom of presentation (chronological, circular, etc.)
  • Freedom of exposure (post online, post on social networking sites, link to other pages, email, share)

How is traditional writing related to confinement?

  • Forced choice (type into a word document, use APA format)
  • Restricted to text only (where is the creativity in this?)
  • Static presentation (into, body, conclusion, thesis, supporting arguments, concrete examples)
  • Limited options for exposure (post to ctools, print out and hand in to teacher, file in a folder, save as doc)

Traditional writing doesn’t do justice to Freedom of Speech, but new media writing does.

What do you think of this as a guiding theme for my essay? Should I narrow it down to one specific thing or is it okay to have the sub-sections of the main idea “freedom”?



“Paper Must Be This Long (Or Short)”

Why do professors make page limits?  It’s very annoying and distracts me from focusing on the content of my papers. Instead of trying to get my thoughts out, I worry about the length of my papers. The papers that need to be x pages long always turn out too short or too long. Right now I’m working on a paper for my communications ethics issues in journalism class and am struggling to make it fit the minimum page requirement. I started working on the paper about a week ago and it isn’t due till next Monday. I thought I was doing oh so well and would have the paper finished way ahead of time, but here I am trying to add in more (unnecessary) info and restate every other sentence just to stretch it out from 6 to 7 pages. I understand that certain information must be included, but if I can say what I need to say in 6 pages, why should I force myself to write a whole other page? I have more important things to do than spend a whole week trying to make my paper fit the page requirements when I’ve already spent so long on it. Do you agree with me? What do you think about page limits/requirements?