The Messiness of Life…. and of Writing

For me, the writing process is messier and more disorganized than my apartment bedroom. Which is pretty bad. The bed is covered in my last laundry load; my unpaid utility bills are crumpled on the floor amidst schoolwork and socks; my attached bathroom sink is filled with dirty pots and pans, as I use it as a dishwasher as well.

But this material chaos is the epitome of order when compared to my head – and the artifacts that I produce – when I am working on a writing assignment. I do not craft essays in a linear fashion, but rather begin with a gut feeling, and then I try to make sense of this feeling through any and all processes at my disposal: hand gestures, scribbled representational drawing, free-writes, conversations with friends, etc. In order to generate, and make sense of my thoughts, I cannot start out with order. Rather, disorder and instinct are my fuels.

I have been working at Sweetland this semester and I have noticed how many rules and conventions students adhere to when it comes to their writing. They often come in with rough drafts of papers, that are traditionally set up with coherent sentences and paragraphs in standard English. While these conventions are useful in that they provide a common grounds for the consultation session, I feel that sometimes the rules and conventions of the writing process get in the way of ideas themselves. And what are papers, what are words, without ideas? My favorite sessions are the ones when a student comes in empty handed, and we just talk. We communicate through hand gestures and tones of voice, sometimes through scribbled words or diagrams on slips of paper. This is the kind of work that feeds the writing process, at least for me, and I worry that other students are not aware that such less structured styles are useful and okay.

This semester in the gateway course my writing processes have been messier than ever. But in contrast to other classes, in which the final product is the only thing that matters, in this class the process was recognized for its importance! The semester was about abstraction and reflection and meta-cognition just as much as it was about Creating Good Stuff.

While I’ve heard other students groan about the requirements of the e-portfolio and question how necessary all the reflections and drafts are to their work, I have been in my element these past few weeks, compiling my artifacts and visually depicting their relationships to each other. I love that all the little pieces of my writing processes are cherished and respected as items to be displayed and analyzed rather than as ugly waste to be cast aside and never looked at again.

The theme of my e-port is that writing is messy. Just like life, and the human mind. And that this messiness is good. 

Here is the link. I hope you enjoy!

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