I’ve Always Been Bad at Titling Articles

I think my overall view of writing has changed, and that’s a good thing. Writing is a much broader term than I initially thought it was, and that includes making things like videos. I’ve learned a lot about video editing (er, I guess vodcast editing?) but I think that that will be valuable to me as a writer moving forward. I will no longer watch a video embedded in a NYT article and assume the written part of the article was the most difficult thing to produce. This has been my first time playing with iMovie, and I’m really glad that I finally have a base knowledge of how the program works.

When it comes to writing, I haven’t done very much strict academic writing this semester, but I’m OK with that. I think that growing all facets of my writing will automatically improve any academic writing I do. I also think that academic writing won’t be very applicable to my life following graduation in a year and a half. I hope that writing (in general) is always applicable, because I really enjoy writing, but I don’t think I’ll ever need a strict thesis with topic sentences ever again (unless I somehow land in grad school).

I don’t really wish I was working on any other kinds of writing right now. I think this course has done a good job of covering a few different kinds of writing, and because of the volume of writing I do outside of class, it has been a perfect fit for me.

Looney Toons duck typing.

Writing, and lots of it.

I’m mostly satisfied with the writing I’ve done this semester. Between the gateway course and my history classes, I get to write about a range of topics in a range of ways.

The only thing I would like to work further with, I think, would be developing a solid academic thesis. I feel a little ridiculous wanting to get into it at this stage in academic writing because we went over it so, so often in high school. My history teacher back then was very rigorous on making sure we had good theses. Now, however, I’m feeling very out of practice.

I wrote this embarrassing essay a few weeks ago for my amcult class that was so structurally weak. I’m blushing just thinking about it.
The biggest issue with it was my thesis being too broad and too unrelated to the prompt.

animeUltimately though, I’d like to work a bit more on developing the ideas from my vignettes into more of a story format. Or, just writing more of them to explore the ideas from my world building. Writing those were without a doubt the most satisfied I’ve been with my writing in a while. That being said, I don’t mean to say that they were perfect in every way–I’m just really happy I finally wrote something about that world. I’d been working on it for, well, years to be completely technical, but the last time I wrote anything substantial was years ago before all of the countless world revisions I’ve gone through.

Book Recommendations Anyone?

Hello fellow writing minors! My mom has always taught me that the best way to learn how to write is to read. And seeing how we’re all a bunch of writers, I figured this blog would be a good place to seek out some reading recommendations.

I am specifically looking for memoir recommendations. For my capstone project I am writing a memoir. I would like to continue writing the memoir after the semester is over and would appreciate some reading inspiration. I’m not looking to read a memoir written by someone who was famous – since I’m not famous – and so fame will not be the reason my memoir is successful. Rather, I am looking for a memoir that was successful because the writer had a story worth telling and told it well.

That being said… with vacation coming up… feel free to comment if you have any book recommendations in general! It would be great if you could elaborate a bit on what it’s about/ why you liked the book. Hopefully this will be useful for anyone looking for some book recommendations as well!

Academic Writing…I Forgot About You


Lisa Simpson is conveying what I fear will be my feelings after the Gateway course is over. I agree with these statements completely. What is academic writing again? I have been having so much fun exploring different genres that I have forgotten what it is like to write something like an argumentative essay or a critical analysis. I first got this feeling when I was writing an essay for another class. It was a product analysis and I found it difficult to keep my tone and voice professional versus what I have been doing for the repurposing and remediation projects.

With that being said, I enjoy that our assignments are not as conventional as an academic essay. I feel as though throughout the rest of the minor I will be able to engage with more work on academic writing, but I think that starting off with the Gateway course opens a lot of doors in my development as a writer. I did not expect this much freedom going into the course, so all of my ambitions of exploring creative/ free writing have been explored.

What I hope I am improving on most is my understanding of finding my own voice and tone and learning new genres of writing. This course has forced me to think outside of the box and I think that is exactly what I needed in order to develop as a versatile writer. I have also learned how to use certain technology that I never thought I would use. Who would have known that “alt-tag” would become a part of my everyday vocabulary! At this point in the minor I think that my writing has improved in the area of creativity. I have never been one to journal or write for fun, so the fact that things like writing this blog post come a little easier to me signifies that I am learning and becoming more comfortable with writing.

3 weeks left.

We have officially reached that point of the semester. By that, I mean we have reached the point of no return. This is that moment when you kind of wonder what the heck have you been doing all semester.  This is the 5th year I have experienced this, and the 9th semester, and yet I STILL have this feeling around this point. I question if I have enough time, and I question if I have done enough to make my life easier.  Luckily it also is that point in the semester where as long as you buckle down, everything will improve.

Part of this reason this point of the semester feels increasingly difficult is because of the type of class the Capstone course is. It is the kind of class where, for the most part. everything depends on the final thing that you have to do for the class. In ways this type of class is a blessing and a curse. First of all, its’ a blessing because it makes the daily demands that you may feel during a semester earlier on in the semester are not as bad. It is a curse because regardless of how prepared you think you are, your life becomes increasingly difficult the closer the semester comes to a close.

The key to this point of the semester will be the next 3 weeks. It might not seem like it right now, but 3 weeks is a lot of time to do a project. It just means you have to have the dedication to creating content. My project has the potential to be unbearably long, so if I want to actually get it done,  I have to just do it. The amount of work that I will need to do seems daunting, but as long as simply sit down and focus on telling the story I want to tell, I will do everything I want to accomplish.

Blog 10: The Next Jenna Rink

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com
I feel like I definitely have these moments at points. Since entering the minor, writing has become thought of as less academic and more as a career-oriented passion and exploration. Granted, these are all fantastic things. I feel like I’ve really been given the chance to refine my skills in the writing areas I love, ones that I could see myself pursuing in the future (possibly and hopefully), but because I couldn’t hate writing analytical, academic essays more if I tried, I wasn’t encouraged to further these skills in the minor-thankfully, but perhaps not entirely to my advantage. When I sit down to write papers for my major, Communications, I still get a sort of nauseous feeling in my stomach. How is it that writing can be so rewarding and so easy when I’m writing for new media, for blog/editorial pieces and to speak my mind, but the second I have to quote an author or reference a citation- I lose all interest. I guess it’s like this for most students, but there are times I wish the minor had given me the chance to cultivate less of a hate for this papers and more of an acceptance. As far as writing ambitions I haven’t had the chance to engage in yet, I definitely want to do more interviewing of people and practice drafting feature pieces. In my remediation project, I’ve gotten to talk to people I would never get the chance to talk to, had it not been for this project. I think I’m a fairly comfortable person, so I would love to see how my comfort with people could translate into further interviews and pieces, especially if I want to try working at a magazine when I’m older? If you haven’t seen 13 going on 30, Jenna Rink is living my dream life (except for the part when she skips 17 years of her life with no recollection- so I guess I’m more so referring to her job in the film). For the publications I write for on campus, I dabble in this work a bit, but not as much as I’d like. Perhaps I’ll look into joining another publication for the semesters, one that will challenge me to do this work.

Mastering the Basics: Sentence Structure

As I have voiced in previous blog posts, my goal in entering the writing minor was to develop a more professional tone by mastering the basic mechanics of writing. And while I have already made noticeable strides towards achieving this goal, I still find myself regularly struggling with awkward sentence structures, as suggested by the prompt. These frustrating moments arise for me both during the initial writing process and during the revision process, and often times leave me feeling handcuffed in front of the computer.

My conscious struggle with fluidity and rhythm were most prevalent during the revision process of the repurposing piece. I began my revision process by studying the sentence structures of my model source, and then proceeded to mimic them in my own work. It was this process of actively altering my sentence structures that opened my eyes to my go-to sentence structure: complex. The more I combed through my repurposing piece, the more complex sentences I noticed, and revised. I feel this exercise of consciously writing in certain sentence structures was my first big step towards improvement. Additionally, the weekly blog posts allow for regular practice and subsequent improvement.

Alt="satiric cartoon about writing revision"

Furthermore, I hope to implement my improved writing skills into research abstracts and manuscripts written for my lab here on campus. Writing a research paper is a very extensive process and often times requires more than twenty or thirty drafts before the publisher will accept the work. However, beginning this writing process with a strong understanding of basic writing mechanics will surely speed along this revision process and cut out many unnecessary drafts.

In all, I look forward to steadily improving my writing skills in the coming semesters, and then implementing such improvements in a wide array of writing projects.

 

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.

A Fall in Review

I’ve been in school for a lot of years now.  Just about fifteen, to be precise.  And through these fifteen years of learning, I’ve sort of developed this theory on teaching.  And here it is.

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers.  I’m comfortable with making the assumption, then, that I’ve never once had a bad teacher through my education and I think this way because I further assume that, if a teacher was bad, then the school districts wouldn’t be writing a contract to them in the first place.

So all of my teachers over the past fifteen years have been good teachers.  But through these fifteen years, I can name only about four to five of which were particularly memorable.  And when I say memorable, I don’t mean just the memory of school; I am taking about memorable outside of school, too.  In no way were these years consecutive, either.  But then I’m struck with trying to understand why exactly some years were more memorable than others if all of my teachers were generally good teachers?  And I believe I can answer this question by focusing particularly on teaching style.

With today’s technology (and whatnot), we have the ability to understand that human brains are divided by left and right sided lobes.  Generally speaking, it’s been decided that left brained people are mathematical and textual in their learning style.  Therefore, right brained learners benefit from the more imaginative and creative methods of information intake.

A diagram of the left and right sides of the brain.The way people taught when I was growing up was very traditional, in that A+B=C and all things good come from text or reading.  And this teaching style fit one type of learner: the left brain learner.  And sure, the majority of the population was and still are left brain learners, but what about us right brainers?  How do we get to learn?  Are we, then, deprived of equal education if our teachers are teaching us in ways that are hard for us to learn?

I remember five years of my childhood.  Just five years and the rest are a bit of a blur.  And I think I know why.  I think this is because the teachers who taught me during those five years were teachers who weren’t just good, they were innovative.  I believe that these five teachers realized that there isn’t just one method to learning, and thus, to teaching.  There are many.  And the teachers who taught to the right side of the brain just really spoke to me.  And then I would learn and my memory became so much more vivid, in school and out.

In college, I was finally granted the freedom to teach myself to learn.  I used methods of self guided learning that were adapted to my personal style and through doing so, I have really started to like learning.  But the most learning I have done throughout my entire school career has been this past semester.  And, as well, I think I can tell you why.

I think I learn really well through writing.  I used to hate writing.  It took time and effort and I used to think that I would get just as much out of writing as I did speaking.  And speaking was just a lot faster, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t really doing anything for me.

I’ve discovered myself as a learner this semester through writing.  And this has been the most impactful semester of my college career, simply because I’ve been asked to write so much.  So that’s what I’ll keep doing then, because clearly it helps me do my job: to be a student.

Therefore, what I’ve learned most about myself as a writer this semester is that, well, I learn really well when I write.  And this is reflected in my academic arguments.  While I am actually learning what I am writing about, my arguments become much more logical and thus, have more flow.  And from the first essay that I wrote this semester to the last shows all of this progression.

SO yes.  I’ve taken forward steps in my writing this semester.  And thank goodness for this because after all of these essays, I’d be pretty bummed if I didn’t show any improvement.

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!