Self reflection versus evaluation

It’s interesting to really think about how valuable writing is in the world today, especially with entertainment. All the movies, television shows, and music that we immerse ourselves into generally have some form of a written background, whether it be lyrics or a script. Yet, people are often hesitant to have a major or minor on this important ability, out of fear of not obtaining a job. So, it should stand that those who choose to specialize in this skill should try to have their writing improved in the way they see fit, right? They need to make sure to get their metaphorical bang for their buck, so it would serve best to improve their writing in areas that are lacking with individual attention from their instructors.

Except that’s not true in the slightest.

When I started the minor in writing, I wanted to purify my writing of inorganic constitution, a pretty vague and abstract concept in of itself. I was expecting this goal to be accomplished through crafting various essays and obtaining others’ opinions on how to deal with this issue. I was worried that bias towards my own writing would inhibit me from seeing this issue fully.

Again, another misconception I had.

With my remediation project, I had to do countless revisions of my script. Wanting to mimic the style present in The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight, I had to make sure that my writing was precise and to the point in order to keep the audience’s attention. As a result, I had to eliminate many convoluted sentences and minimize the “fluffy” language I often utilized. Indirectly, I accomplished the goal I set for myself initially through my own revision and editing, not through another’s. While other people certainly read my script and left comments, none of them were on the writing itself but more so the content. In the end, only you can help yourself improve your writing. Through careful self reflection of what one has written, an individual ultimately becomes the only individual who can truly help in the improvement of his or her own writing.

With writing, it is much more complex than just fixing what is “wrong,” because there really is no true wrong with writing. Yes, there is grammar, formats, and various other rules and regulations in place, but at the end of the day, this is all done to make the reader better understand what the writer is trying to say. This was something I did not fully comprehend when I first started the gateway class, but is something I find incredibly fascinating. I feel like the saying “you are your own worst enemy” is coined, but I feel that this is quite applicable when it comes to improving your own writing.

Mood.

I’m not sure if it’s this class or this semester or even this year, but I feel like I’ve been doing through a major transition with my writing. I’ve started to overanalyze every word I write and every story I tell. In actuality, I’m sure I have not gotten worse as a writer, like I sometimes imagine I have, but I do feel less confident in my writing ability. Whereas I used to be able to sit down and write a paper without doubting or second guessing my thesis or format, I now take hours just to formulate a thesis statement that I end up changing halfway through.

The Californians

It could be that as I get older and gain more experience with writing outside of school, the way I write adjusts to complete different tasks. For example, when I write a blog post for work, they are usually 1000 words and do not require a thesis per say–though they do have an argument–and instead, focus on telling the story in a clear way. No flowery language, no complex structures. Just regular ole words!

Conversely, the prompts I’ve had this semester have challenged me to develop a thesis statement and find evidence to support it. What I’ve noticed is that every GSI and professor I’ve had prefers their written assignments in different formats. Some want a clear thesis statement, and a classic 5-paragraph essay while others want us, as writers, to be more creative and tell a story. It’s been difficult to switch up my writing style every time I have a new paper due. But I guess that’s college…and life.

As it pertains to this class, the blog posts are what have kept me sane and confident in my writing. They allow me to voice how I’m feeling and what I’m looking forward to without worrying about the “grade” I’ll receive. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out in his post, “Why I Blog” it’s the urgency of writing a blog that is enticing for me. “We blog now,” he writes and I feel this urgency every time I read the Semester Schedule. I like being forced into writing, even when it’s a struggle to come up with something to say. I think this push and pull is what makes writing so beautiful and so challenging. If it was easy, everyone would be a writer (depending on your definition of writer, I suppose everyone actually is a writer…I digress).

Jennifer Lawrence

To tie my stream of consciousness that is this blog post together, I’ll close by saying that this semester has posed a new host of challenges in terms of writing but I do not wish them to go away. I think the overanalyzing and late night worry about writing is normal, and perhaps beneficial for my writing. I know, deep down, that I am improving as a writer. What I think is missing, however, is a way for me to truly understand how and in what ways because, other than the grades I receive or the praise I get from my boss, there’s no way of truly knowing that you are getting better at doing something that’s so subjective. If anyone has any tips for keeping track of progress, I would definitely be interested in hearing about it!