Done for Now

After an extensive editing process in frustratingly slow Internet throughout this weekend, I am finished with my e-port! Throughout this week after receiving the peer reviews, I focused on making sure I added descriptions to each page and reflection on why I chose the papers and headers I chose to include. I also completed my new media writing piece and my final podcast for my remediation piece, which I then uploaded to complete the requirements of the e-port.  Adding a podcast to wordpress was initially a huge struggle because I could not directly upload the mp3 file, but I then decided to look back on older e-ports and learned how they uploaded podcasts. Using a site called Soundcloud, I was able to upload my podcast and then post a direct link to wordpress, which I was excited worked. I also added to my re-purposing page my reflective step-by-step writing process for the re-purposing and remediation projects, found under as the main link on the repurposing page.

After completing all the projects, pages, and writing I wanted to include in my e-port, I then focused on making sure all the overall aesthetics and base navigation worked for what I wanted in my e-portfolio. I wanted my e-portfolio to be both creative and professional, but ultimately a reflection of myself through my writing. I wanted a common theme to be finding a sense of identity through writing, and an element of discovery about who I am through my writing interests.  Ultimately I am relieved to be done but after learning so much about working with word press, blogging, and reflective writing, I am excited to continue working with this e-portfolio in the future in the capstone course. Feel free to check out my e-port here! Thanks to everyone for a great semester!

Writing to Procrastinate Writing

I have a procrastination problem. And so now I am writing to procrastinate writing my paper. It’s funny how writing a paper for a specific prompt is so hard so I instead write about something else to distract myself. But if I just wrote about what I was supposed to be writing about the whole time instead of writing texts, emails, on people’s facebook walls, etc while wasting time maybe my papers would be done faster. And better. It is a vicious cycle. I think I have written more papers this semester than I ever have had to in 4 months of my life ever. And yet I always still procrastinate.  You would think I would learn by now.

But so my question is: is procrastination part of the “writing process”? Is that allowed? I honestly feel as if I would not be able to write my papers or be considered a writer at all if I didn’t procrastinate somewhat. I would love to be one of those people who can write a little bit every night and then edit edit edit and still be done with the paper 2 days before it is due. But I can’t. My writing process is procrastinate research, do research, procrastinate writing, write, then edit. It is problematic yet so habitual.

Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover and Sticking to Basics

Having just returned from Why I Write, I have many thoughts. Listening to Thomas Hager speak was a very enlightening experience, or maybe as he would describe, “compelling.” When I initially heard that Hager was nonfiction science writer and that his most recent book was The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery that Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler, I sort of assumed that this topic would not interest me much, as I am not much of a science person at all. But wow was I wrong in my assumptions. I suppose the old phrase you can’t judge a book by its cover applies here, once again.

Hager was incredibly interesting and despite my lack of knowledge about topics of science, he made his writing methods appealing, approachable, and relevant for all. He brought up ideas we discussed in class about writing for the reader, and writing for the audience. I love that despite his nonfiction limitations and topic that may only interest few groups of people, he stated that when he writes he doesn’t write just to write, he writes for people to read. I would like to apply this philosophy to all writing I write, despite the topic.  Sometimes I get so bored and fed up with a topic I am writing about that after I finish writing it I don’t even want to read my paper. His passion for writing and all the topics he chose to write about was so apparent.

I also love the point he brought up about putting your facts and breaking up your research on note cards. I remember on the first research and basically long paper I ever had to write in my 6th grade English class, in order to organize our research that we had no previous background on ever doing before, we used this method. Our teacher knew that as 12 year olds writing their first big research paper we had no idea what we were doing, so any time we found a source and quote from that source we wanted to use, we had to write it and cite it on the note card. She even made us color code our pens by source and then divide the note cards into sub topic for specific paragraphs based on what the quotes were about. Although I used to think this process they made us complete in 6th grade was juvenile and an overly long process to get research and keep kids organized, thinking back on this experience now, I realize that this was one of the most effective and organized research methods I have ever done. Perhaps why I still remember it even. I am so glad he brought this idea back up because although I may not have time to do such a lengthy process now as a busy college student, I am glad to know that one day if I do choose to write a book or something, that this research method is proven effective even by published authors!

From Blogging About Blogging to Writing about Writing

I find myself writing so much that I do not know what to write about when I do not have a specific purpose or prompt.  I am currently in 3 Upper Level writing courses and this Writing 220 class, so needless to say, I write a lot. I have an average of 3 papers/ blog posts/ some sort of writing assignment a week and only have a total 4 exams this whole semester, to give you a comparison. I actually blog for two of my classes, my Comm 478 class about new media and this class.  Although this blog for my comm. class has specific prompts we have to write to about that all relate to technological platforms, I find it ironic that I somehow the prompts I write about for that blog relate so much to what I am writing about as my topic in Writing 220.

For my blog posts in Comm. 478 the past 2 weeks, I focused on gender in videogames and gendered technological applications like Siri being a female voice. At first when I am assigned prompts where I am supposed to analyze a media technological platform, I have no idea even where to begin. So what I end up doing is making the topic more to my interest and ironically, somehow they always become about gender and feminism.  Yesterday when I was working on my Guitar Hero Analysis, reading simple analysis on computer interfaces bored me and I did not even know where to begin. Yet when I did my own analysis of the over-sexualized ways the characters are developed and dressed, my argument came to form. I then began to analyze commercials for Guitar Hero and how those are gendered as well based on the over-sexualized females in the marketing campaigns as well.

In comparison, for my remediation and repurposing project I am also focused on anti-feminist attitudes in the movie Legally Blonde.  Even though the prompts completely different in this class, somehow the overall themes of femininity became apparent in my paper.  I guess that this really showed me how much how writing can be shaped by your views and becomes a reflection of your interests.

How I Write Inspirations

I just got back from “How I Write” and wow do I have a lot of thoughts! Before I even went to the event I had talked to my friend who is a Screen Arts and Culture concentrator who had the speaker, Shelia Murphy, as a professor and she goes “that talk will be interesting…she is such a character.” And what a funny character she was! I at times felt like was listening to a comedian speak but she was also so insightful. Right off the bat I was so excited to hear that she wrote a book called How Television Invented New Media because my all time favorite class at Michigan I took, Comm 371, was just about this very topic.  Topics she talked about throughout like Walter Benjamin and his snow globes really related to me since because I had learned about him in the previous class, I understood and was excited by her point more. And how perfect that the speaker wrote about New Media when we are working on our remediation project focused on new media!

She made many points throughout her speech that really resonated with me and made me want to consider in my own writing processes. The first was about being more concise in your writing and avoiding jargon. I personally always am envious of the people who write really great stuff in clean, uncluttered paragraphs that are not overly long or wordy.  Getting rid of “Jargon,” as she called it, makes work so much more accessible and makes writing more engaging to people outside of academia, and ultimately makes writing more interesting.

Another point she made was how important it is to “just start writing.” Once you start writing, you will not only feel better, less stressed and like you are accomplishing something, but also once you start it’s easier to just keep going then. Additionally she suggested to do this were figuring out how long you are able to write, the best time of day to write for yourself, a productive space for yourself, and most off all the comfy pants. I myself always find the struggle to just start writing so hard that I find myself procrastinating until the very last minute when I have to write. If I use her tricks, maybe this could help me.

The third point that she made that resonated with me was writing about something that truly interests you all the time. She said to write about stuff you are committed to, stuff that requires you to use your brain, and ultimately never to take what you do all too seriously. Ultimately, her talk inspired me get more excited about writing in general, and about writing this blog post!

 

Also, I loved how she kept referencing her dogs! She made me so jealous that she has her dogs to write with! Here is my dog at home:

I often wonder if she was with me at school if writing would be easier!

Defining Remediation in Multiple Classes


I often find it funny how every semester, no matter what classes I am taking, my course topics always seem to overlap in someway. Currently, I am studying for a huge exam in my Communications 381 class (where the professor kindly decided to make an exam and paper each worth 20% of our grade due on the same day, this Thursday) and one of my vocabulary terms to know for the exam is Remediation. In the context of a communications term, remediation is described as “a process in which the aesthetic practices of a new medium influence the aesthetics of an older medium.” I think although that remediation project for this writing course is referring to something different than how we discuss remediation in communications classes, the same basic concept for our remediation project still applies: we are taking our re-purposing paper and it’s basic argument, premise, audience, and maybe even part of it’s aesthetics, and changing it to a new medium. Although the difference is we are not simply letting the aesthetics of a NEW medium INFLUENCE our OLD medium, we are just taking the “old” medium’s purpose.

This communications definition of remediation definitely relates more to what we are doing than the definition of remediation from the dictionary: “the action of remedying something, in particular of reversing or stopping environmental damage.” Although we are changing something, I do not believe we are making one or the other better; we are conveying the same points in both for the same audience. What I think though for our remediation is we are making our argument to different kind of learners. For example, we can change a written essay into something more visual, so more visual learners will understand and retain our points more. Or we can change a visual piece into something more for audio learners, so people who learn through listening will be more interested in our work.

I think I want to do the latter—making my written magazine article in to an audio podcast. Although I am interested in media and am excited for the completion of a hard copy of a new medium format style of argument, I am also worried. I have never done something new media and am at a loss of where to begin. Although I know I want to do a Podcast, then again I do not know how to format how to write a podcast, how to storyboard a podcast, or even how record a podcast. Ah, the initial feelings of stress that comes from all new assignments.

Blogging about Blogging

So here I am again, blogging about blogging. I just finished another blog for different class I am in about Visuality and New Media and I am in one of those modes where I am so relieved to be done. A blog post about how iTunes has changed it’s “self-interpretation” through it’s multiple interfaces just wasn’t that fun to write. Compared to that “blog” assignment that had strict guidelines, a super specific prompt, and even a word limit, writing for this blog almost seems therapeutic.

After re-reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog after becoming such an “expert” blogger in the past couple weeks, I definitely think I took some different points from it this time I didn’t notice last time. I had never blogged before in my life before this class so when I read the Sullivan piece the first time I liked his ideas, but I didn’t really understand them, nor did I relate to them. Now I do.

He states, “ For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.” I completely agree. When I am blogging, I feel as if I am just writing down my thoughts, and don’t have to worry as much about what I am saying as I do for other classes. I guess this is mainly thanks to the gamification grid, but also it is because of the freedom of blogging. I find this ironic from my initial views of blogging because at first I thought I would be nervous writing for blogs because anyone could read it, but now I find that I feel less worried. I guess Sullivan epitomizes this in a way when he states:  “To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while.”

It’s funny though that I get this sense of freedom and therapy from this blogging but another assignment I have that is titled “blogging” is so the opposite. I guess the genres of blogging can differ as much as blogging can from other forms of writing. Yet as for the repurposing project, I am hoping that I will get the sense of freedom and enjoyment I get from writing these blog entries in that piece as well.

Re-purposing Excitement and Roadblocks

I attended the Minor in Writing info session in mid January before I’d even applied to the program, and the main thing I remember from the session was the students in the current cohort describing the amazingly cool re-purposing assignments they had completed. One guy repurposed his essay into a video, another girl repurposed and argumentative analysis into a magazine article. I’ve always wanted to work doing editorial work or something at a magazine, so I was intrigued at the idea of doing an assignment like this for a class, and amazed at how professional the girl made her piece look. Although at this time I already knew I wanted to be a minor in writing, I remember walking out after seeing these distinctly unique projects made me excited to be a minor in writing.

So I here I am about to start my own repurposing project. I  would love to write for so many different mediums; in a fantasy land, I’d love to one day be a teen fiction author, a movie critic, a children’s writer, a restaurant reviewer, a fashion columnist for the NewYorkTimes or even a comedic blogger on a site like betcheslovethis would be super entertaining. Since this sort of writing is what interests me, I really want to repurpose one of my argumentative essays I have written in the past into one of these new formats. Yet being an indecisive person I am at a crossroads here since I not only need to decide what kind of project I want to work on, but also I need to figure out a starting piece which would enable me to do a fun and engaging problem such as this.

Looking through my old essays, most of them have to do with the media since I am a communications major. I was thinking of doing some kind of changing of these media-analysis papers filled with communication class terms to a more pop-culture like piece that would be in a magazine like Entertainment. But then I’m confused as where I go from there as I am horrible with technology and do not even know where to begin in how I would format a piece to look like an actual article. Also how do I research such a topic? Read articles on how magazines are produced or formatted? Aside from taking out terms for the original assignment, I don’t even know how I would repurpose this article to be that different than the original piece.

So that leads me back to my original indecision. Should I instead refocus my paper completely and do something like movie review instead? Or should I save that for the remediation project? Am I too technologically challenged to even do something like this? Are these topics too unprofessional to put on my ePortfolio which I someday hope to use on my resume and to show future employers? These are my roadblocks.

Writing as Theater?

 

I feel like when I typically write, I write for myself. Meaning, I write as if I am the audience. If I am writing for prompt, I feel as if the only audience I tend to write for is teachers. This is bad. After reading The Craft of Research, “Engaging Sources,” I realized that I should be thinking more about the audience as I write.

In the past, I have typically been the person who never wants anyone to read my writing because I was too concerned what people would think. I worried it wasn’t good enough, didn’t sound intelligent enough, or was filled with grammatical errors. That’s why initially the idea of blogging for this class somewhat scared me. Now I realize though what is the point of writing if no one ever reads what you write. As quoted in the article “your research counts for little if no one reads it.” I spend so much time writing papers and doing research for paper and no one ever even sees it.

I think this is why I never really considered audiences in my writing, because I never really had one. When writing for teachers, I wrote as the rubric, assignment, or guidelines told me to, and that became my audience. But The Craft of Research emphasizes the idea that we have to consider their audiences and use their judgment in order make the writing stronger and more focused.

I want to become the writer who helps people “understand something better,” or who has “found an answer to a question important to you” or “found something really interesting” or “found a solution to a practical problem important to you.” Often, I get too caught up in research and offer readers a “collection of known facts” or too many complex quotes that they may not even understand unless I clarify more.  I never really considered the idea of creating a “relationship” between readers and myself. If anything I always just thought of my writing as informative, so therefore it would be a teacher student relationship. I like the idea of “cast[ing] your readers in a complementary role, one giving them a specific reason to read your report.” Creating this “social contract” with readers is something I definitely want to begin with the readers and audience when I write specific pieces, and something I even need to begin considering in my prewriting for papers (and probably now in this really boring blog post?)

Trust the Process

I’m finding it ironic that as I think about what I want to write for my “Why I Write” paper, I can’t think of what to write. Pretty typical of me though. Procrastination, writers block, more procrastination, “a shitty first draft,” some editing, some sleep, then some more last minute editing—I’m realizing these are all stages of the process. Or more specifically, stages of my specific process of writing a paper. Right now I’m finding that I am on stage two of my typical writing process—writers block.

To help with my situation, I figured instead of stopping writing- I would keep writing—just switch to a different prompt. So here I am. Writing about my progress on Why I Write. This is harder than expected too as I have never been asked to keep updates on how my writing process is going. So here it goes.

 

My initial thoughts to this assignment were “wow this will be so easy I love writing.” Yet now as I am in the process, I am not so sure how to put into words why I write. I usually write for a purpose, for an assignment, or as a communications mechanism, but I know that I write for a deeper reason too. Here’s where the block comes in. I know that one of my favorite parts of writing comes in after I am done writing something; I love the feeling of completion, complete satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from completing a piece of writing I am proud of. Or when I look back on old works, and how long and thought out they are, and find a sense of pride in my work. But that is after I do the physical act of writing so does that count to why I write? Block.

 

Not to jump all over the place, but another part of this assignment I am struggling with is the structure-less nature of it. In actuality, I love it, but it is causing me not to know where to begin. Where as in the past, I have been used to writing usually out of coercion for a class assignment, I am so used to having a strict rubric to follow, a specific prompt to outline from, and precise research and quotes to use throughout. I am starting to hate that this format of writing has been engrained in my brain as “the right way” or “the standard way.” Writing is not about following a rubric, or specific format, or some kind of technique. Writing is not a science or a math, where you use equations to fill in where to quote something, or a method where you must use a five-paragraph essay with an intro, conclusion, and three supporting body paragraphs. Writing is not supposed to be filled with restrictions like not using “I” or run on sentences.

So now I guess this is why I have come to the realization that this is why I write—because writing can be whatever you want it to be—an assignment or a means of communications—but also a place of expression, a place of freedom, and a place of solace. I write for all of the above.