Prior to this past year, my writing process has been very simple. I would just write without doing anything special; there was little to no editing process, and there was definitely no revision process. By taking this class (English 1010), I became more aware of my writing process, and the necessity of having one.
In previous years, I would just put as many words as I could onto the page in order to reach the word minimum, and often it would result in an incoherent mess that gave both me and the reader a headache. My writing has grown the most within this past year. I honestly believe that the reason writing suddenly became easier to me is that the topics became more interesting.
In the previous year, the topics which we had to write our essays on were mostly political, or book reports. I try to avoid politics at all costs, and book reports are always the worst because I don’t always know exactly what I am writing. My most recent writings have room for me to be creative within them. My literacy narrative for example, was a personal narrative that I was able to write easily because it was about myself; all the information was already inside my head.
Deborah Brandt defines literacy sponsors in her article as, “…are any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy… (Sponsors of Literacy, WAW 247).” This seemed easy enough, I just had to think back to my childhood and what/who pushed me to read and what pushed me away. You find that when trying to remember specific things about your childhood, your mind is empty, unless it’s an embarrassing moment that is.
While the discourse community analysis that I wrote was a little more difficult, I was allowed to write for the topic of my choice, and I chose something that I was passionate about. Discourse communities have varying definitions, but John Swales states it best, “…a group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as basic values and assumptions, and ways of communicating about their goals… (Reflections on the Concept of Discourse Community, WAW 546).” when I read this definition, I immediately started thinking about marching band.
There is a lot of communication that is specific to the people that are a part of it, to the point to where it can seem like a different language to people who are not a part of it. It seems that writing is easiest for me when the topic is something that I am passionate about. It’s like having a personal conversation with the reader.
My ideal writing environment is one where I am forced to be focused; Someplace busy with lots of people, but also not super loud. I find that I often write my best when I have lots of noise, but no intense distractions. Music often helps me with this, lots of people each doing different things is my preferred environment, but it can often be too loud to concentrate. Music allows me to have people around me, but without hearing the many conversations and getting distracted.
My environment is almost always directly reflected within my writing. I find it best to write in areas that reflect the same vibe as the paper that I am writing. If I am writing a book report, I prefer to write in a library, I once had a paper that was about the impact that nature has on productivity, so I sat outside on my back porch to write my paper. When the environment around me is messy and chaotic, my writing tends to be exactly that; messy and chaotic.
Creative writing is often the easiest for me to write. I find that when I am writing for leisure, I can write anywhere. I can write wherever inspiration strikes. With academic papers on the other hand, it becomes nearly impossible to write unless I am in the perfect place to do so. When writing, I often throw all my thoughts down onto a paper and then I go back and take another look at it. I decide what things I want to keep, and what things that I need to take away from the writing.
Until the past couple of years, the only papers that I would get assigned would be book reports, or academic research papers. These were mainly just to test if I read the material, and how well I comprehended it. This caused me to get weighed down and hate writing. Eventually, around eighth grade, I got extremely into superheroes. The more that I watched these heroes, the more creative my mind became.
After about a year, I started not being able to sleep. Instead, I would imagine myself in an alternate reality, with superpowers, where I could control everything to be just as I liked it to be. I quickly found that this daydreaming of sorts was causing major issues for me. I would lie awake for hours imagining these things.
Eventually, the lack of sleep started to catch up to my still developing body. I started falling asleep in classes, not doing work because I didn’t feel like doing it, even ignoring my friends because I didn’t have the energy to talk to/ hang out with them. I found that the best way to put an end to this was to start writing down my inner imagery. Writing always bored me, but as I wrote down all these things from my mind, I began to love doing it. I filled an entire notebook with a movie script that I wrote that is borderline copyright infringement, inspired by the television shows and movies that I was interested in at the time.
This is the first time that I started writing for pleasure. Just me with a pen and paper, sitting alone in my dark room at night, with rain sounds as my only company. This is when I experienced writing as it was meant to be; no due dates, no specific material that had to be included, no stress.
Political papers are my enemy. My eleventh-grade English language class was during an election year, that meant political papers based on debates and articles that seemed never ending. This hampered my writing process because it became apparent that if I put my actual political views into my papers, then it would not go well for me. The only thing that I took away from this class was stress, and the belief that I needed to appeal to my teacher’s ideals and preferences to be considered a “good” writer.
Recently, my assigned papers have been more personal, and allowed some creative freedom. This has allowed me to redevelop what I saw as “good” writing. Now I no longer write to please a teacher. I don’t even write for the sake of a good grade. What I write now, is my absolute best because I have taken away the filters placed on me since we first were taught the writing process.
When I write now, I am working to please myself. If I have written a paper and not looked back on it proud, then I have done something wrong. We are taught that papers must adhere to a five paragraph, three main point formula. We are taught that outlines are something that you must have before you can even begin writing. On my last few papers, I intentionally left out these aspects of the process, first out of laziness, but then I noticed that it became so much easier to write because I was no longer confined to the chains of a creativity-dampening structure.
The main problem that causes students to not be fully capable of writing their best is our education system. The reason that we are taught this structure is because that is what we are expected to write in when we are tested at the end of the year. This structure is mainly there so that the educators that are assigned to grade the papers can easily read and identify the points. English teachers spend almost all year each year going over and critiquing this writing formula to ensure that students have it perfect.
Teachers don’t necessarily have the freedom to teach their students that they don’t have to use the guide because if the students don’t, and they don’t test well because of it, the teachers’ job is at stake. If the people in charge of statewide testing would take the extra time to allow students to write in the way that makes them be able to be their best, we would have much greater writers out there.
Look at newspapers, sports columns, and entertainment writers; these people rarely if ever follow a five-paragraph essay structure. The current structure that is taught in schools is just used for the ease of grading and it makes it a lot harder for students to grow into amazing writers. If we truly want our society to be more creative and to be better writers, the idea of a defined writing system must be forgotten.
As I threw this writing structure out the window, I was able to find that I could write much easier. I’m not longer stressing about only having three points, or a strong transition, instead I am able to focus on what I need to say. This has made me a more powerful writer and given me the ability to clearly voice my inner thoughts about a subject through writing. I can only imagine what my writing ability would be like if I was taught to write like this from the start of my education.