How Do I Write?

I started a magazine, which became widely known throughout my second-grade class, called “Teen Dog”.  I spent months mapping out my cover pages, articles, and layouts.  I planned my future headquarters, all the way down to picking out the material the office desks were to be made from.

Being older now, I have come to realize that how I worked on my magazine back in second grade is equivalent to how I work in my everyday life, especially in my writing.  I spent countless hours planning every detail of my future business to guarantee perfection and have no need for change later down the road.  When I write, I start with an outline, making it more and more detailed, until it is essentially a paragraph with bullets in the middle.  I lay out all my quotes, facts, and arguments in order, making sure there isn’t a single item out of place.  I then go in and retype the outline, adding in transitions and making words flow.  Everything directly reflects my outline, just as I had planned, with no major changes.

As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that this is a doggone terrible strategy.  I tend to get so dead set on my original plan that I ultimately refuse any change and feedback.  This leaves much of my writing repetitive and uninspired, despite the large amount of time spent planning.  Although I am inherently afraid of change, I have been working on tweaking my process.  I have realized writing is not solidified, but rather a piece that will probably never be finished.  Recently when I write, I print out multiple copies and mark all over them, rearranging paragraphs, structure, and even changing my entire topic.  But, even doing this, I will still revert to my old habits, rearranging an entire essay so that it ends up the same as the original.  Changing my mind is like trying to pursued a car to run on its own.  But as I get older, and technology grows, maybe cars will be able to start with just a simple thought, just as I will be able to accept change.

Never Complete

If one thinks I could narrow down how I write to a single method, they would be wrong. The language. The tone. The structure. My choices in writing all vary and revolve around one idea: the audience. However, no matter who the audience is, my writing trends seem to remain the same since all of my audiences create a foundation for me to achieve and explain a purpose. I could be creating a personal journal, composing an academic piece, or simply writing a letter to a friend, but my desire to constantly perfect my writing is present at all times.

I always go for the shitty first draft to start my writing to reduce the stress of having to create my hopefully next best piece. There could be commas in the middle of the page or sentences that look like my own foreign language, but to me, my ideas are as clear as can be and will somehow make its way into legible phrases that hold meaning. Yes, I am one of those people who loves to crank out an eight-page draft in one day and find this work to be sufficient. I typically spend an entire Saturday lying in my bed with my favorite Target bedrest pillow. Without this disorganization, I would be limiting my imagination to throw ideas onto the page and not be able to evolve a basic idea into something more complex or purposeful.

I’ll wait a couple of days before looking at this writing again. I rarely panic at this phase because my ideas are already created and I know that my writing can always be improved, whether it is the second draft or the fifth. Adding a slight tonal shift here or a structure change there, there are infinite ways to improve one’s work. That’s why I believe that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to writing. My biggest struggle is not to decide whether my writing is ‘good’ enough, but rather to decide if my writing can be deemed complete. I decide that if the audience is able to understand why the author chose to write the piece and its purpose of being written, then I am content with leaving my writing alone. But still, realistically, whose writing can ever actually be considered as complete?

How messy can writing be ?

I had never thought about the way I write but now that I think about it I feel like my process for writing is really messy. I feel that I have a really long process before even starting to actually write down anything. I think a lot, I get ideas, I stop thinking and I forget my ideas. So I start thinking again. Let me tell you that my process contains a lot of thinking for someone who is suppose to be writing.

Let’s say I have to write a research paper, well once I have my topic in mind I spend days just thinking about it. I mostly think at night and end up writing possible ideas and arguments in my mind. In my opinion, that’s already messy.  Let’s face it, some of these ideas do no make it to the next morning, and maybe they were good ideas but that something we will probably never know. I tend to want/try to write an outline as soon as I can and then I realize that I actually have to do research before that in order to know where I am going with this paper (I guess I should have figured that out from the “research paper” part but apparently I always see the research part as an option to look at later.) Once I start doing my research I like to pull everything I can find that seems important to my topic. As I am an international student from France, I like to get articles and scholarly papers not only from English authors, but French as well so that I get multiple points of view. Once I have all I need, I usually put together a really detailed outline. I need as much as I can think of in this outline. I start with a possible title or literally just the word “TITLE” just written in the middle of the page thinking that I’ll figure that part later. Then I usually put a part for the introduction and what might get in the intro but I usually come up with nothing as I usually write my introduction at the end. This is another blank space that I have to figure out later on. Then I have another blank space with the conclusion, it seems as if I really like to start by writing down the part of my paper that I won’t actually write. Once I have done that, I get into the core of the paper I usually have most of my outline written in my head because to put something on paper I need it to be fully written in my head first. My outline gets filled with titles of parts that will divide my paper: Part I, Part II, Part III. Then I add little titles under these for each argument that will be part of this argument (i, ii, iii, …) and then I put the ideas under each argument (a, b, c, …) and relate them to the different sources I have researched. Once I have a detailed outline I usually print it and let it sit on my desk and write on it every time I get a new idea or find a new source that I think I should use. Then, I go into another process of thinking about writing my paper and once I have it mostly written in my head I start writing. The actual process of writing after that is usually fast because I have my detailed outline and my paper in my head. When I start writing, it usually takes me hours to try and have the perfect first paragraph just to then give up and usually write a really bad first paragraph that I know will never make it into the actual paper. I usually write 75% of my paper at once and then I come back to it for the other 25%. I try to have my first version being really close to what I want for my paper and then have friends or people in my class read it for review to improve it and change what needs to be change. Then I rework it and write about 90% of it before reviewing it myself, and coming up with the finished product.

The Process of an Average Writer

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.

Try and find fourth grade me!

Writing 220 : How I Write

How I Write Discover
Every time I sit down to write something of importance – something more than a work email, or a solution to a physics problem – I default to a process that I discovered to be effective about two years ago. Currently, I write to get a grade on a paper. While this may seem pathetic, I try to make the most out of it; it’s the only time I have to write. To discover. Upon receiving the prompt, my mind circles endlessly with ideas and inspiration. For nearly two days, I will actively live my life analyzing what it throws at me, and how it could or could not relate to the piece I have to write. I wait and wait and wait for inspiration to hit me like a truck. It is then, that I know.
With the idea fresh in my head, I run to the Espresso Royale on South University. I put on my glasses, let my body fall into the plush booth below me, and wrap my hands around the warm glass of my Spanish Latte. I take a deep breath in, savoring how perfect this moment is – the last calm breath before the roaring wave of words and ideas crashes on to my laptop.

 

I plug my white ear buds into my ears, turn on classical French music and let any thought that I have flow through my body, to my fingers, and onto my keyboard. The person next to me must think that I am just pressing random letters on my laptop, as my fingers are moving faster than ever. I keep writing until I feel that I have found an answer to my question; this will normally take at least four or five pages of writing. However, once I have found this, my most tedious task is complete. I wrap up the piece with a haphazard conclusion and shut my laptop, knowing that tomorrow I will snip, rearrange, and beef up the essay. Better yet, I walk away feeling satisfied. I got a very good start to a pressing assignment and – better yet – I have written about something that interests me. Through this process, I obtain a greater meaning. Whether I’m leaving Espresso Royale with an answer, or just a better understanding of a concept, I am content in what I accomplished.

Writing 220 Intro

Hello!

My name is Rebekah Ruetz and I am a junior studying violin performance at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. In case you are curious, I hail from the other mitten across the small pond (Wisconsin), and am a proud Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers fan. I am excited to begin this journey in the minor program, since writing has become a passion of mine over the past couple years, as well as reading. I am most interested in short stories and essays, and aspire to possibly write articles for a magazine at some point in the future.

 

In my spare time (rather, what little there is) I enjoy running, petting dogs and cats, and eating pickles. I also have succumb to the Netflix and Hulu addiction that has infected many college students, and regularly stream tv shows such as Parks and Recreation, The Mindy Project, The Crown, Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Law and Order: SVU.

 

Other peculiar interests I have include the following:

-practicing violin (especially scales and technical exercises)

-collecting stuffed animals

-drinking a ridiculous amount of hot cocoa

-eating Pad Thai

-creating nests or forts out of large blankets

-watching ballets

-collecting candles from Anthropologie

-researching composers and stories behind pieces that I perform

 

Excited to begin this journey with you all!

~Rebekah

Me in my Olympic Track and Field costume after the UM Orchestra’s annual Halloween Concert 😉

Writing 220 Introduction: Ellie Flom

Hey hey hey,

My name is Ellie and I am a sophomore studying Business. I also have very little direction as to what exactly I want to do within business, so feel free to HMU with any and all advice and expertise.

When I entered college, I expected English 125 to be the beginning and the end of my writing career. It ended up being my favorite class.  For me, writing had always been more of a private and personal pursuit. If I was upset, or confused, or even just plain pissed off, I would write about it in a journal. Ranting on paper was an outlet that let me express my feelings without any consequences, and I often discovered things I didn’t even know I was feeling until I had written it down. My relationship with writing was so personal, in fact, that I was always scared to let others read what I had written. In English 125, however, we focused heavily on peer review-which, due to my fear of someone else reading my writing and promptly hating it, terrified me at first. It took a while, but through this class I learned how to just write unapologetically, and this experience is what inspired me to keep writing through the minor. My previous english classes have helped me learn how to write with purpose and ask “so what?” in regards to every argument I make, and I expect the MIW will expand my thinking even more and help me discover more about myself through my writing.

Some other things about me: Outside of school, I enjoy singing in the U of M Women’s Glee Club and looking at pictures of dogs. Also, I have always loved heights; I spent my summer working on a high ropes challenge course and zipline, and have also gone cliff jumping and skydiving.

Here’s to a great semester!

 

Writing 220 Introduction: Flick Cain

About me:

Hi! My name is Flick. I am painfully sarcastic and have been described as a human Ping-Pong ball. My fatal flaw and my best attribute is my inability to take myself seriously.

I am a junior majoring in Sociology (although I am far more enthused about being in the writing minor). I’m on the women’s Varsity Rowing team here at Michigan, which pretty much occupies most of my time. I am from Connecticut but I spent eight years living in England before the age of 10, which is why I talk funny – despite being accused of faking the accent and having a speech impediment.

Myself as a writer is very much me as a general human being. I write how I talk and how I think. I’m all over the place, I stress over nothing, and I am beyond over-dramatic. This tends to be a façade as I engage in this behaviour to avoid dealing with whatever is actually stressing me out. When it comes to actually putting words on paper, I don’t have to hide from real life.

Why MiW?

I applied for the writing minor after taking a creative non-fiction writing class my sophomore year. That class taught me how to grapple with difficult topics and evaluate experiences while having narrative distance. Having spent most of my life hating to read, I had never considered a future in writing. I no longer hate reading, although if it’s not a topic of interest to me, I likely won’t make it past the first page. This has proved to be problematic throughout my college career, particularly in my sociological theory course.

The photo below is a pretty good depiction of how I like to live my life: with my eyes crossed.

 

Writing 220: Introduction

Hello Everyone,

My name is Marine Barjol I am a junior majoring in Political science with a minor in translation studies and a minor in writing. I am an international student from Normandy, France and I am really excited to be part of this minor.

 

Why MIW?

Before coming to the University of Michigan I would have never thought of choosing to minor in writing. I never really minded writing the typical five paragraph essays but I did not think of myself as a writer, writing these essays was just me being a student not a writer. However, my English 125 class with professor Schutz changed that. I realized that I could write differently about topics I was interested in and really enjoy it, enjoy the process and what was coming out of it. Thanks to this class and my wish to constantly improve my English, I decided to write more and to keep discovering more about what being a writer and not only a student writing essays means for me.

 

What inspires me?

Just about everything can be a source of inspiration to me. Once I have a topic, I let my mind wonder and start writing and rewriting this future paper in my mind as ideas come along. However, I am usually interested in writing about current events or something new to me that I can research and create my own idea of.

 

More about me:

When I am not in class or studying, I spend most of my time at my sorority house where I live, either working out with my roommate, spending time on skype or facetime with my family and friends from France, or planning my next adventure as I love to travel and discover new places and cultures.

 

WRITING 220 INTRODUCTION: Alexis Bausch

YO! My name is Alexis and I am a sophomore pursuing, aside from the Minor in Writing, a degree in business.  I was born and raised in Ann Arbor and, apparently, liked the town enough to stick around for another 4 years.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been interested in the Fashion/Magazine world.  When choosing a major/minor, I took this into account and looked for a way to incorporate my love for journalism with skills I could apply in the Fashion industry.  This lead me to finding an interest in marketing, but I still urned for more creativity and writing in my life, thus leading me to join the Minor in Writing.

Throughout my life, I have always been extremely shy and awkward.  When I discovered writing (as it was taught in high school by my FAVORITE teacher), I realized, rather than socializing, I could express myself in words on paper!  I would like to push this interest further and get more in tune with my creative style and the styles of other writers as well.  I often push my hobbies to the side, but this year I vowed to pursue what I love and not let anything stop me! (Except maybe law enforcement)  I am excited to see where this new thinking will take me, along with what the Minor will allow me to learn about myself!

Talk soon,

Alexis (pictured below)