English Composition 2
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Back to Writing Tips from Students
Writing is a Process
by Simon Tiffin
Of all the goals a person must strive to accomplish in order to live a successful life and be a productive member of society, achieving some sort of education is probably the most cardinal. I have always thought to myself, “If I can achieve an education—in this sense, I’m speaking more of secondary education, particularly at the collegiate level—I will be able to do so much more with my life than those who have not.” According to the LA Times, “People with a bachelor’s degree make 84% more over a lifetime than high school graduates,” leading me to believe that an education is more than just important: it is essential (Hsu). Eighty-four percent more money is money that can be used to buy a car, fill a stomach, or support a family. This education, of course, does not come easy. There are many challenges among the way, and a lot of these challenges include writing. Although writing is difficult, it can be accomplished when using the proper process. In my English 1001 and 1002 classes, my teachers were able to help me learn a writing process which helped me forge my way through each and every paper. This writing process consisted of prewriting, writing, and rewriting, and it helped prepare me to conquer any and all writing challenges that come my way when I go on to higher education.
Of all of the parts of the writing process that have helped me, the prewriting process was definitely the most helpful. Being a random person, I often have a hard time thinking sequentially; therefore, organizing a paper is not always the easiest thing for me to do. I like to think creatively and write as ideas come, but formal academic writing follows a pattern. Prewriting always seemed a bore to me, because I felt that it hindered my creative process and left my trapped in a box where I could only speak about a few specific things. Fortunately, my teachers in my English 1001 and 1002 classes were able to help me learn to organize my thought ahead of time and make my thoughts into words without feeling trapped. This was called the prewriting process. I can remember in English 1001 when my teacher assigned all of the students the Compare and Contrast Essay. At the time of the assignment, I was reading 1984 by George Orwell. I was so overwhelmed by the subject matter of the book that I didn’t even know what to think of the book let alone compare aspects of the book with aspects of something else; however, my teacher was able to help me get started. She taught me how to analyze my book for symbols, motifs, and other aspects of literature which make for strong papers. Through this analysis, I was able to come up with the main points of my paper, write a thesis, and prepare to tie it all into a paper that would eventually provide insight into a bigger point about life which the author was trying to prove. Instead of feeling confined to talking about certain topics, I felt relieved that I had narrowed down a book of such strong concepts to just a few points. I was able to fully express my creativity when preparing to write and successfully use the most creative and powerful ideas to help shape my paper.
Although prewriting was difficult in its own right, actually writing the paper always proved to be a bigger challenge. Before taking English 1001, I would often set the ink to the paper and just write what came to my mind; however, as literature became increasingly more complex, I began to realize that this method was no longer applicable to the writing portion of my life. Accompanied by the prewriting process, I had to have a writing process, too. The moment of revelation hit me when I read The Count of Monte Cristo in English 1001. In my class, each student was assigned a Reader’s Notebook in which certain aspects of the book would be recorded and eventually a few short essays would be written. Although the essays were not particularly long, learning to condense all of the information presented in the text and talk about what was seemingly the most important aspects of the book proved to be difficult, especially with literature such as what I had chosen: nearly 1500 pages of Shakespeare-esque language. Not only this, but also coming up with a convincing argument seemed almost impossible with the plethora of points I could propose. Using the writing process, however, helped me conquer the beast and write a paper which earned me an A. Simply breaking my paper into three parts—an introduction, a body, and a conclusion—and using powerful claims, evidence, and reasoning to further strengthen my paper made breaking down the book much more simple and organized. Although my brain worked in a non-organized manner, using a form of organization made the information from the literature seem more accessible and less intimidating.
I have explained the toils and troubles of prewriting and writing, but there is no greater beast than the beast of rewriting. When I’m done with a paper, I want to be done, but I have learned that it never hurts to rewrite. The idea of sitting down, powering through a paper, and then turning what one has done without any review seems quick and easy, but it is not what forges strong, well-supported essays; fortunately, there are always people to help. In my English 1002 class, my favorite aspect was peer reviews. I could bring a paper that was not necessarily my greatest work, and get supportive and constructive comments to help me make my paper stronger. The peer reviews really helped with the rewriting process, but the rewriting process will always remain the most difficult in my mind. My greatest memory of rewriting was in my English 1001 class in which I wrote a personal narrative. Although I thought I had initially written a strong narrative, I learned how weak my paper truly was when it was returned to me. As one may or may not know, personal narratives rely heavily upon description. Without powerful and moving imagery, there is no proper picture formed in the reader’s mind and no emotional response evoked from the reader; therefore, when rewriting my paper, I had to use several literary devices and more descriptive wording in order to better convey certain images. Although initial writing may be strong in some ways, it can always use improvement. In my English 1002 class, my essays were often written descriptively and very strong in terms of sentence structure, but my papers lacked a certain organization or structure. Although the structure was there, I often had to work on strengthening it and learning to have the structure help me rather than hinder me.
Overall, the writing process I learned in my English 1001 and 1002 classes taught me to better organize my thoughts and transform them into strongly supported sentences. Although it was not an easy road, it was a road worth taking since so many aspects of life call for effective writing: emails, applications, recommendations, essays—the list goes on. Through learning prewriting, writing, and rewriting, I am better prepared to achieve my full writing potential when I tackle many writing challenges at a level of higher education. Thanks to my wonderful teachers who have taught me so much about organizing my powerful ideas to make them more captivating and about the writing process in general, I will be able to tackle the world—full of writing—head on. Just like writing, however, it will be a process.
Hsu, Tiffany. “College Graduates Earn 84% More Than High School Graduates.” L.A. Times. Los Angeles Times. 5 Aug. 2011. Web. 31 July 2015.