In fourth grade, was an avid reader. I read book, upon book, upon book. I would get in trouble for reading in class and stay up all night reading. I’d show my teacher passages I found beautiful or funny (probably much to her annoyance.) Naturally, I soon picked up writing. After this discovery of writing, everything changed to the words that I wrote. I’d write story, upon story, upon story. I would get in trouble for writing in class. I’d write in my blue spiral notebook until late into the night. These stories were never anything special, just princess tales and large animals out to eat humans (think Johnathan Rand.) In the many years since the days of Mrs. Brock’s fourth grade class, I have refined my writing through both the quality and the process.
When I first start writing a paper, I try right off the bat to write an introduction. While maybe I do not have an idea as to where I am going to go in the paper, I find that it helps me get started with thinking about the many ideas I have for the piece. I sit down at my desk, my laptop open in front of me and just type. After this, if I’m having a good writing day, I will continue. On these good writing days, inspiration has hit and I can write to my heart’s content. My fingers fly across the keyboard as sentence after sentence comes spilling out of my brain. On my bad days, my brain scrambles for the next word in the sentence and I inevitably end up deciding to wait for another day. I am not a procrastinator, when it comes to papers, so this (normally) is fine.
The second draft of the paper goes into a new document where I start cutting and editing word after word, sentence after sentence. I ask the questions; “What if I moved that to a new spot?”; “How can I expand upon or explain this better?” I try to rework the writing into a more cohesive paper, especially if it was written in more than one day. I play no music while I write, it distracts me and makes it difficult for my brain to find words. The final draft is where I decide where my edits helped and where they hindered. This sometimes means reverting back to something in an older draft and sometimes means reworking a newer one. Overall, I find that this helps me understand what works and what does not.
I remember back in fourth grade, writing my stories, thinking that once I had finished a draft it meant it was done and ready to be published. That everything I wrote was worthy of a gold medal and if turned in would result in a “job well done.” Over the years, I have learned that the gold medal pieces come from gold medal effort and that “job well done” isn’t the same thing as a good product of writing. My writing habits are no longer jotting down “And then, and then, and then” sentences, they’ve evolved to multiple word documents and no music playing. The quality of my process has greatly increased.