Writing For A Grade v. Writing For Myself

When considering the writing communities that I’m a part of, my mind instantly jumped to two broad communities, academic and personal. When it comes to academic writing, I often overthink my audience in hopes of getting a good grade. At the beginning of each semester, I will try to “figure out” my professor or GSI in order to determine what type of tone to take and, sometimes, the angle to present. I can usually tell when a professor prefers a formal or informal tone but, a lot of times, this is really a trial-and-error process for me. Though some courses allow me to express creativity through my writing, for the most part, they are required to follow strict, clear structures and present a singluar prompt. If I stray away from the prompt or try to experiment, this if a risky move. For a Communications course I took, I debated playing it safe and possibly getting a B grade or so, or taking a risk on a more nuanced topic which could have either been really good or really bad. I went with my gut and expressed more passion and creativity in my piece regardless of the strict prompt. I did not do great on the paper, but at least I properly presented my writing style…right?

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Not my journal, but still cool. http://gabriellegranger.tumblr.com/post/54426217826/5-favourite-things-travel-journal

Additionally, though it might not be a “community,” per say, my personal writing stands in stark contrast with what I write for most school assignments. The only intended audience for my journaling of fun projects is myself only, which completely changes the tone I take. Since it is low-stakes, I’m not afraid of misusing words of perpetuating cliches; it’s my own, so I don’t really care what others think. Also, I only journal whsen I feel like it, and I never force myself to write on a schedule or anything. So, I’ve found that my pieces tend to me more authentic since them stem solely from my own interest. In this mini writing community, the writing drives itself and often moves in completely unexpected directions. For example, when I sat down to write my New Year’s Resolutions the other day, I started strong but ended up on the topic of making the most of each moment of college that I have left. This self-propelled direction can be really useful, especially if I’m writing about a conflict I have; a lot of times I’ll find answers through writing that I never expected to get. At the same time, however, writing often raises more questions than answers, leaving me considering the nuances of each topic and thinking more deeply.

The merging of these two communities shines through in my brainstorming process. Since personal writing helps clear my mind and raise/answer questions about a topic, I often free write in an informal tone about a┬átopic for a school subject. Because I’m the only audience of my brainstorm, there is less pressure to perform and I find it easier to get my thoughts organized. From there, I conform to the accepted norms of the academic community for the topic, whilst presenting my own opinion.

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