Reflections on UW20:57
Dear fellow UW 20:57 students and Professor Myers,
When I took a look at our final quiz in class this morning, I couldn’t believe how fast this semester had flown. I could hardly remember taking the quiz on the first day of class and was amused to find how similar some of my answers were from that first quiz to the last. I was comforted to see that my voice as a writer has remained much the same. But now, looking over my essays and blog posts from this semester, I have found that my writing (and my understanding of writing and scholarship) is much changed. I began this semester with a confident attitude towards writing, having two AP English courses under my belt and a declared major in Journalism and Mass Communication in the School of Media and Public Affairs. I thought that this required writing course would be the least of my worries and stresses in the first semester adjustment period from a high school to college workload. Little did I know, I would be tested by new types of essays, unexplored topics, and a journey into the world of scientific blogging. While this course has been difficult, it has been a great learning experience for me in new techniques and tactics for writing about subjects I normally would have never considered.
When Professor Myers presented us with our first essay prompt, I was completely befuddled about how to begin. I had never heard of writing a segmented essay, and was wary of writing about my personal experiences as I had been taught to never use the word “I” in formal essays. As I began to write however, I found myself becoming entirely invested in the subject and racking my brains for any memory that I had that pertained to science, as well as looking for a creative way to introduce my memories into the essay. I was pleased with my first draft and was astounded with the specificity and scope of Professor’s comments. I had never had a teacher respond so thoroughly to a piece of writing. After giving the essay about two months’ distance, I was able to take Professor’s advice and completely rewrite almost every word. By rereading my old sentences closely, I was able to see the essay through almost a third-party perspective, unafraid to cut entire sections of paragraphs and completely reword others. I saw how important revision can be in taking writing to the next level, something I used to consider too difficult and unnecessary to waste my time on. I rarely even proofread prior to coming to GW, and now have learned that failing to proofread can be like an immediate death sentence for a paper. The biggest lesson that this course taught me was to not get attached to a first draft. In order to achieve a higher standard of competence, a writer must be unabashed in editing and rewriting until his or her piece most clearly conveys its message.
Prior to this course, I was terrified of the idea of a research paper. I had only written one or two in high school, and was not fond of looking for scholarship to back up my arguments, preferring to state facts as if they were common knowledge. Working in groups on our final paper helped me to overcome this fear however, as I was forced to research endlessly until I became excited when I found relevant sources for my topic. I had never considered the idea that writing the body of my paper first could help me realize what it is that I wanted my thesis to be. This is also where revision came into play – once I knew my thesis, it was easier to edit the body of the paper to work towards backing up my main ideas. This course provided me with new ways use sources in a paper and helped me to have no fear in searching Gelman’s databases for scholarship to make my claims more credible.
Though many of my quiz answers were the same, there was a clear distinction from the first quiz to the last in my understanding of the writing process and the necessity of scholarship and revision. I am proud to say that I will never again forget to proofread a paper, and that I now aim to finish a paper at least a day early so that I can have some distance from it and that I’m not attached to my original words when I revise a paper. I am thankful to this course for my newfound desire to stop procrastinating and to leave time for revision. Thank you to Professor Myers for her many comments and suggestions that have helped me in my writing process. I believe that I am leaving this class a more humble and mindful writer.