Challenge Journal 4: A Chance to Expand

The Capstone project has been a unique writing experience in the sense that it allows for so much expansion– something I’m not used to as a psychology major, who mostly writes about one specific topic in great depth. Over the course of the semester, I have had to release this mindset, and instead adapt a new one. Instead of writing a chapter of a book, the Capstone project requires us to write the entire book, complete with chapters and images to guide the reader through our thoughts. Looking back on my college career, I am glad that I have had both kinds of opportunities. It is important to be able to dig deep into one specific point and expose every small detail of a case. It is also important to be able to put together a story, or journey for a reader to go on with you as a writer.

That is one thing I have had to adjust to during this Capstone experience. It’s a different way of thinking. Instead of using a microscope, it’s getting in a plane to have a bird’s eye view. One essay I wrote during junior year in English 225 somewhat reminds me of this method of observation and composition. We were assigned to write an open letter– to anyone, about anything. I chose to write to my sister who was a senior in high school with advice on entering college. It didn’t have a specified purpose stated at the top. It was more of an exploration of my feelings about important things to remember during freshman year, and values to keep in mind. I even state that there isn’t a clear cut answer available in the essay:

This isn’t a guide to get you through college without making any mistakes, because making mistakes is part of what makes your college years so memorable.

I structured my thoughts as a list, stating 5 pieces of advice and expanding them into paragraphs. Together, these 5 pieces of advice led the audience (my sister and other incoming freshman) through ways to think about college, rather than an answer on how to succeed– that is too large a question to give a single concrete answer to. Some examples of my “guiding” thoughts as opposed to “solution” thoughts:

Don’t let other people’s ideas about what leads to success and happiness in life affect the choices you make.

You are not the only one who doesn’t know what you are doing.

Smile. A lot.

Similar to the Capstone project, these pieces seem disconnected from each other with close reading. However, together they give the reader a way to approach the idea of freshman year at college. Each page in my Capstone project is a distinct piece of a large idea.

It has felt rather unnatural to so gradually unfold the many layers of the argument I am making. I am so used to laying it all out in a straightforward thesis that encompasses everything I am going to say in a neat and ordered fashion. I have mostly written for audiences that are interested in knowing the conclusion, and the reasons behind that conclusion. However, in my Capstone project, my focus is on gathering different stories– narratives, descriptions, histories and images– in order to make the whole. Rather than having the reader know exactly where I am going to take them, I instead invite them to go on the journey with me.


One thought to “Challenge Journal 4: A Chance to Expand”

  1. Hi Melony,
    I’m glad you blogged about this! I’ve had a similar struggle. I’m so used to writing super detailed, long papers on a very narrow topic. So, at first, it was hard for me to take a step back in my writing for my capstone project and realize that I was more so telling a story, not presenting an argument from the get-go and supporting it with every single subsequent sentence. You describe this struggle really well in your post. I also think that the opportunity to write in both of these ways has been really valuable. I think knowing how to write in one of these ways makes our writing in the other form better and vice versa.

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