My Writing Process
English 467: Writing and Learning
I sit down at my typewriter to begin my paper, but find myself staring at a blank page. Thoughtfully, I grab a notebook and put down a few ideas. These are just general thoughts on topics. Once I have considered my interest, knowledge and resources, I pick a topic. Now the easy part is done.
Brainstorming usually includes making lists and word associations. Sometimes I do a lot of prewriting and other times I do next to none at all. What I find helps me the best is to free write. I just let my thoughts wander until I am stuck or come to an end. This rough draft is what I work from. I work better without any categories or restrictions to limit me. In my life, as well as my writing, I value freedom.
The length of time it takes me to get started depends on my attitude toward the paper and whether the teacher wants to read a draft or just get a finished copy. This rough draft can sit for weeks and be left alone until the night before it is due or it can be read by several people. I generally have problems getting my friends and family to read my papers. If they had time or were interested, then it would help me a great deal. Bouncing ideas off people gets me out of the rut I often find myself in. The length of time also depends on how interested I am in the subject and how much research I have to do. If I have to do research, then how available the information is, also influences me as well.
Generally long papers require lots of research. Short papers only require information one specific text usually. When there is a lot of information to sort through and organize, it makes writing incredibly difficult for me. I have a hard enough time writing a three page paper, let alone a twelve page paper. That is why I got a D on the one twelve page paper I had to do and Cs and Bs on the shorter papers I have to do. I just can’t focus on a subject that clearly. It is like putting a puzzle together for me. It takes a very vivid idea and a lot of time to create a good paper that is twelve pages long.
I don’t us outlines because I can’t seem to organize my thoughts that way. My organizing comes from writing all over the draft. I will add a paragraph or so on another page. I scribble things in the margins or above the scratched out sentence. I do a cut and paste without scissors and glue or a computer.
The final draft is also a final revision. I take my mess and type it up neatly on my typewriter or computer. I add and subtract information as I go along and try to make sure words are spelled correctly and everything. While I am typing, I become very conscious of how I phrase things and if my grammar is correct. In the past, my teachers have pounded in certain concepts that often come back to haunt me—things like never beginning a sentence with “and” or “because.” I try desperately not to have sentences filled with pronouns. Should I put a comma here or there I wonder. I try to ignore that nagging voice and just correct what I absolutely know to be wrong. Once the major mistakes are cleared away, I tuck into my folder to be handed in.
When I get it back I am often discouraged. My points weren’t clear and I did not have enough strong evidence the teacher writes in bold red ink. I tried, but I wasn’t sure how to get across exactly what I was thinking. Where did I go wrong? What more could I have done? When I write my fiction, I don’t struggle like I do when I write my academic papers. When I write my fiction, I write down the basic information about the characters, setting and plot and go from there. It forms itself. Most of my writing is, however, still in draft form. I do not have the skills or patience to edit them like they need to be edited. If only I could hire a personal editor!
Once I went to the Writing Center. The advice I got was good, but I couldn’t apply it. I simply didn’t have the tools to get down on paper what made perfect sense in my head. The tutor basically reconfirmed what I knew, but did not give me any new ideas or tools to work with. I didn’t go back to the Writing Center because I didn’t feel it would help me. Maybe they couldn’t help me because I couldn’t express what I needed more clearly, but I can’t express it when I don’t know exactly what it is I need help with! When it comes time for the next paper, I will do much the same as before, because I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I am open to new ideas though.
Anyway, this is the basic progress that I go through each time I write a paper. I brainstorm, pre-write and then revise and edit my final copy. It is a relatively simply process, so there isn’t much to write about how I write.