No Place I’d Rather Be

I am actually really happy with the writing that we’ve done for this course. My whole academic career, I’ve been at least a little bit opposed to the academic papers I have had to write. They always seem so formal and rigid, and depending on the teacher and the class, they may force me to write about things I do not care so much about, or at least in perspectives that barely interest me. Exploring myself as a writer has been a fun and enlightening experience in many ways. Writing from my perspective has been transformative.

However! There is always some room for improvement, and I think this is a good to go ahead and voice my opinions on what I think I would have liked to be working on during class time and outside the classroom.

We do a lot of reading in this class on abstracts; we learn about style, genre, and rhetoric in their broader contexts, and then apply it to our own work and to other writers’ works. This is very informative and interesting, and helps us better evaluate those pieces which we find interesting and influential. I think in order to supplement this process of learning, it would have been helpful to practice with specific genres and styles of writing. I know I chose journalism as my genre and the New York Times style of investigative journalism and objective writing. This was all my decision, though, and looking back, I think it would have pushed me to better understand style and genre if I was told to, for instance, choose another classmate’s exemplar genre and style, evaluate it, and attempt to write in it. This could be a cool classroom activity or something along those lines. Basically, getting to see and learn to write in genres and styles different from what I am already familiar with.

I think context in writing is also very important, and we have talked a lot about that as well. Gauging the audience and evaluating the purpose of any piece and the exigence are aspects of my writing that I will carry with me forever. That is how important they are. Sometimes, I had wished we worked more with this idea. We could have done fun writing activities in class in which we took one concept and applied it to different contexts, with different audiences and different exigence, so as to practice our manipulation of rhetoric. This could be a really fun and interesting activity!
Those are my ideas for now. I really have enjoyed writing about projects that have meant a lot to me in this class. It has been an outlet to pursue my true writing aspirations. I have become a lot more knowledgeable on issues that I care about and on how to write about them.

Sorry 4 the Wait 2

Well, I’ve run out of snappy Kanye quotes to excuse my second late blog post, so instead I’ll have to settle for Lil Wayne: “I’m soooooo sorry, so soooooorry. Ooh! This this that Sorry 4 the Wait 2.” And then, I’ll follow that up with the classic running-late excuse: traffic (and by that I mean the travel complications that are consequences of the inevitable traffic in the 700 mile trek from Ann Arbor, MI to Woodstock, VT, and then the familial responsibilities that come with the fourth Thursday of November each year). But, alas I am finally here and able to submit this post, and thankfully so, because I just can’t imagine this blog without one of my posts to lighten the mood. In the words of Mr. West, “My presence is a present, kiss my […]” …well, I’m gonna cut that one off there, but I knew I could snake a Kanye quote in here. Seriously though, my apologies to anyone to whom the lateness of this blog post caused any inconvenience.

Had I been asked what kind of writing needed the most focus this time last year, my answer would’ve without a doubt been either professional or academic writing, two fields that I for the longest time struggled with, the latter due to lack of exposure, and the former because frankly I’d no idea what professionalism is. However, due to a class in professional writing last semester and an over-exposure to academic writing through my major that forced me off my ass regarding that discipline, I’ve suddenly become semi-proficient in what I would’ve formerly identified as my weakest points in writing, while falling out of practice in what I thought was my strongest point: writing for fun.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy the writing I do through this course, or through any other. But, as with reading, there’s just a divide in my motivations between when I pick up a pen and paper because I want to and when I do it for a deadline, and despite the fact that the machinations within the two are virtually the same, there’s some elusive element missing from the latter. And with reading, the over-prominence of being forced to do it on a schedule has, with rare exceptions, disillusioned me from the practice of reading almost entirely, something from which I used to draw immense amounts of solace and pleasure.

Through my posts here, I think I’ve made it quite clear that I draw similar things from writing, so I will just state plainly that I would be crushed if I lost interest in writing on my own time the way I have with reading. And while it would be easy to blame the internet age for the lack of importance most people assign to casual reading and writing nowadays, I rather blame the dearth in downtime that I have as a college student, and the amount of energy that has drained from me by the time I have any. Do I spend my week-day evenings curled up in bed half-conscious while Netflix beams episode after non-stop episode of [insert show of the week] into my skull? Absolutely. But it’s honestly not because I want to, or even because I draw much enjoyment from that. It’s simply because I don’t have the energy to engage with anything else, not reading, or making music, or even video games, let alone writing.

College education is important. But we all know it takes a lot out of you. The struggle is to make sure that it’s not taking the really important things out of you – your energies, your passions. It’s this delicate balance that I’m working on the most recently, and unfortunately have yet to find it. But I have faith that one of these days life will slow down and I’ll get a chance again to write because I want to, not because I have to.

Baby Steps

I really am very thankful that this course allows us to go in directions other than that of your typical analytical essay. Other classes give us nowhere near that kind of freedom, and its nice. I almost forgot what it feels like to do a creative project. But alas, this is a writing course after all, and I do need to return to the essay at some point.

And so on that topic, I do have some writing skills that are in need of improvement, mostly my pre-writing process. Perhaps I missed this memo in high school but I feel like my paper outlining skills are practically nonexistent. When I sit down to write a paper, perhaps I have a few notes on what I want to write, but I just start writing the intro and then the body paragraphs and so forth. This is doable, but I feel like it’s not practical. This process is also stressful lol. I could save myself a world of trouble if I learned to outline my ideas before hand. Its like sitting down to do a painting and just jumping right in with the colors without doing a sketch first. I need to learn how to sketch!!

Aside from honing in on my pre-writing process, I would also like to eradicate all my anxiety that comes when I hear I must write a paper. Even at this point in my education, a junior in college, I still get nervous when an essay assignment is presented. This is unacceptable to me. I don’t want to feel anxious, I should feel confident and prepared, like I know I can do this and it’s not a big deal. Like I’ve done this so many times before and this will be none the different. I think the problem is that I don’t have enough experience cranking out essay after essay like it’s nothing, and (as boring as it sounds) maybe I need some high intensity essays in a short period of time to sponge out this fear.

But this would mean class won’t be (as) fun anymore! And thats no fun! I need to conserve my fun, since I only have one year of it left before the real world arrives 😉

Looking Back

By this point, this far into the semester, my idea of writing has changed a lot since the beginning. My expectations for the class were that I would be writing everyday, cranking out papers and heavy revisions. Instead, we have been looking at writing in a broader sense than I had thought of before. Some of my expectations are being fulfilled and I’m not too upset about the ones that aren’t.

One of my biggest goals for this class was to work on my tendency toward repetition in my writing. It is one of my biggest problems, so I really thought this class would help me be more direct and effective so I wouldn’t feel the need to repeat myself. I think that working on the same/similar projects all semester has definitely helped with that. Being forced to take time to revise the same thing has shown me how much more effective my writing can be if I make that effort. Revising the repurposing project, and now the remediation project is getting me into the habit of doing the same thing with all of my writing.

Although I don’t always write every day for this class, with my broadened definition of writing, I do some type of writing every day. Mostly for other classes, which include more academic writing or note taking, but also some creative writing. I’ve been working on my imagery and figurative language in another class, and I think that is somewhat transferring into all of my writing. The papers I mostly write are for my art history major, so the increased imagery is serving that well. Trying to describe works of art in writing is one of the most difficult things I have to do, I rarely feel like I do it justice. But writing figuratively in another class is helping me better do that.

I expected to do a significant amount of writing in this class, which I don’t think we have. But the things we do in this class I can use in my more writing intensive classes. I feel like I’m building skills and habits that benefit me as a holistic writer, not just benefitting me in this class.

Noveling & Growth

I think one of the forms of writing I wish I was working on is noveling. Noveling is extremely hard, but rewarding. It takes a lot of planning. You must set aside a huge chunk of time over the course of a few months/year to get it done. It’s definitely a delicate balance between burning yourself out and not having too much time between the times you work on it (or else you’ll forget what’s going on, and then just waste a bunch of time rereading and catching yourself up to what’s already happened. Of course, not that I have any personal experience with that or anything…lol).

 

My plan to engage in novel writing is to write a novel for my honor’s thesis. We’ll see how that goes: P It’ll take a lot of planning, collaboration, yada yada. But I’m honestly really excited for it.

 
On a different note, I think what I learned the most this semester is to just step out of my comfort zone and try new forms of writing. I’ve learned about new resources that can help me with my writing, and exposed myself to new forms of it. The world is so large and exciting, all I have to do is reach out and touch it. Honestly, I love the support I’ve gotten from this class. No idea is too big to achieve, no plans are too out-there. Thanks y’all: )

I’ve Always Been Bad at Titling Articles

I think my overall view of writing has changed, and that’s a good thing. Writing is a much broader term than I initially thought it was, and that includes making things like videos. I’ve learned a lot about video editing (er, I guess vodcast editing?) but I think that that will be valuable to me as a writer moving forward. I will no longer watch a video embedded in a NYT article and assume the written part of the article was the most difficult thing to produce. This has been my first time playing with iMovie, and I’m really glad that I finally have a base knowledge of how the program works.

When it comes to writing, I haven’t done very much strict academic writing this semester, but I’m OK with that. I think that growing all facets of my writing will automatically improve any academic writing I do. I also think that academic writing won’t be very applicable to my life following graduation in a year and a half. I hope that writing (in general) is always applicable, because I really enjoy writing, but I don’t think I’ll ever need a strict thesis with topic sentences ever again (unless I somehow land in grad school).

I don’t really wish I was working on any other kinds of writing right now. I think this course has done a good job of covering a few different kinds of writing, and because of the volume of writing I do outside of class, it has been a perfect fit for me.

Looney Toons duck typing.

Writing, and lots of it.

I’m mostly satisfied with the writing I’ve done this semester. Between the gateway course and my history classes, I get to write about a range of topics in a range of ways.

The only thing I would like to work further with, I think, would be developing a solid academic thesis. I feel a little ridiculous wanting to get into it at this stage in academic writing because we went over it so, so often in high school. My history teacher back then was very rigorous on making sure we had good theses. Now, however, I’m feeling very out of practice.

I wrote this embarrassing essay a few weeks ago for my amcult class that was so structurally weak. I’m blushing just thinking about it.
The biggest issue with it was my thesis being too broad and too unrelated to the prompt.

animeUltimately though, I’d like to work a bit more on developing the ideas from my vignettes into more of a story format. Or, just writing more of them to explore the ideas from my world building. Writing those were without a doubt the most satisfied I’ve been with my writing in a while. That being said, I don’t mean to say that they were perfect in every way–I’m just really happy I finally wrote something about that world. I’d been working on it for, well, years to be completely technical, but the last time I wrote anything substantial was years ago before all of the countless world revisions I’ve gone through.

Academic Writing…I Forgot About You


Lisa Simpson is conveying what I fear will be my feelings after the Gateway course is over. I agree with these statements completely. What is academic writing again? I have been having so much fun exploring different genres that I have forgotten what it is like to write something like an argumentative essay or a critical analysis. I first got this feeling when I was writing an essay for another class. It was a product analysis and I found it difficult to keep my tone and voice professional versus what I have been doing for the repurposing and remediation projects.

With that being said, I enjoy that our assignments are not as conventional as an academic essay. I feel as though throughout the rest of the minor I will be able to engage with more work on academic writing, but I think that starting off with the Gateway course opens a lot of doors in my development as a writer. I did not expect this much freedom going into the course, so all of my ambitions of exploring creative/ free writing have been explored.

What I hope I am improving on most is my understanding of finding my own voice and tone and learning new genres of writing. This course has forced me to think outside of the box and I think that is exactly what I needed in order to develop as a versatile writer. I have also learned how to use certain technology that I never thought I would use. Who would have known that “alt-tag” would become a part of my everyday vocabulary! At this point in the minor I think that my writing has improved in the area of creativity. I have never been one to journal or write for fun, so the fact that things like writing this blog post come a little easier to me signifies that I am learning and becoming more comfortable with writing.

Blog 10: The Next Jenna Rink

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com
I feel like I definitely have these moments at points. Since entering the minor, writing has become thought of as less academic and more as a career-oriented passion and exploration. Granted, these are all fantastic things. I feel like I’ve really been given the chance to refine my skills in the writing areas I love, ones that I could see myself pursuing in the future (possibly and hopefully), but because I couldn’t hate writing analytical, academic essays more if I tried, I wasn’t encouraged to further these skills in the minor-thankfully, but perhaps not entirely to my advantage. When I sit down to write papers for my major, Communications, I still get a sort of nauseous feeling in my stomach. How is it that writing can be so rewarding and so easy when I’m writing for new media, for blog/editorial pieces and to speak my mind, but the second I have to quote an author or reference a citation- I lose all interest. I guess it’s like this for most students, but there are times I wish the minor had given me the chance to cultivate less of a hate for this papers and more of an acceptance. As far as writing ambitions I haven’t had the chance to engage in yet, I definitely want to do more interviewing of people and practice drafting feature pieces. In my remediation project, I’ve gotten to talk to people I would never get the chance to talk to, had it not been for this project. I think I’m a fairly comfortable person, so I would love to see how my comfort with people could translate into further interviews and pieces, especially if I want to try working at a magazine when I’m older? If you haven’t seen 13 going on 30, Jenna Rink is living my dream life (except for the part when she skips 17 years of her life with no recollection- so I guess I’m more so referring to her job in the film). For the publications I write for on campus, I dabble in this work a bit, but not as much as I’d like. Perhaps I’ll look into joining another publication for the semesters, one that will challenge me to do this work.

Mastering the Basics: Sentence Structure

As I have voiced in previous blog posts, my goal in entering the writing minor was to develop a more professional tone by mastering the basic mechanics of writing. And while I have already made noticeable strides towards achieving this goal, I still find myself regularly struggling with awkward sentence structures, as suggested by the prompt. These frustrating moments arise for me both during the initial writing process and during the revision process, and often times leave me feeling handcuffed in front of the computer.

My conscious struggle with fluidity and rhythm were most prevalent during the revision process of the repurposing piece. I began my revision process by studying the sentence structures of my model source, and then proceeded to mimic them in my own work. It was this process of actively altering my sentence structures that opened my eyes to my go-to sentence structure: complex. The more I combed through my repurposing piece, the more complex sentences I noticed, and revised. I feel this exercise of consciously writing in certain sentence structures was my first big step towards improvement. Additionally, the weekly blog posts allow for regular practice and subsequent improvement.

Alt="satiric cartoon about writing revision"

Furthermore, I hope to implement my improved writing skills into research abstracts and manuscripts written for my lab here on campus. Writing a research paper is a very extensive process and often times requires more than twenty or thirty drafts before the publisher will accept the work. However, beginning this writing process with a strong understanding of basic writing mechanics will surely speed along this revision process and cut out many unnecessary drafts.

In all, I look forward to steadily improving my writing skills in the coming semesters, and then implementing such improvements in a wide array of writing projects.