Dear Professor Myers and Fellow Students,
This semester has been a powerful turning point in my understanding of writing as a skill. In high school I had learned to write pretty well, or so I thought. However, I had only learned to write in one specific style. I was taught that every paragraph had to follow well into the next with a segway between topics. Additionally, I was taught to restate my thesis in every paragraph. Finally, I was taught that it was absolutely unacceptable to use informal language when writing.
I cannot say that any of these instructions are wrong. However, I can say that they only apply to one specific style of writing. For this reason, I was especially thrown off by the concept of the associative, segmented personal essay. I attempted to write it when it was first assigned and it was awful. I knew it was awful when I turned it in but I didn’t know how to fix it. Throughout the semester, I stared at it and attempted it again but I still couldn’t understand it. About a week ago I came back to my dorm and just considered everything I had ever encountered in life and how I could tie it all together. So that’s what I did. I told important stories in my life and tied them together with science. Through this process I have learned that revision is not easy. It is a difficult and sometimes rocky process but it is doable. Also, I found that as I was revising it easier to revise if you don’t using any of the information from the first draft.
The writing skill I focused on the most was learning to clarify my thoughts. Often my writing comes out as jumbled and disoriented. I think this is because I write like I talk. So, I worked on reorganizing my thoughts in to more an effective order. The best way was to follow the suggest given in class and to model the writing of my source. So, I am still practicing how to model successful writing styles.
The final thing I learned was how to use the same source for multiple purposes depending on the prompt. My favorite class was the discussion of BEAM. I believe that I understand sources much better now that I know how to categorize them correctly. For example, I saw Skoot’s book, Henrietta Lacks, only as a background source when the course began. Majority of the information in the book was new and therefore I simply took it at truth value. However, I now know how to uses sources more effectively as arguement sources. This was very evident in essay 2. I was able to see a source I knew nothing about as an arguement for comprehensiveness over accuracy.
Overall, the semester of University writing was very successful in teaching students how to: analyze and use sources to lead an essay; explore new styles of writing with new rule sets; and work with a group to accomplish a task that is usually done individualy. I appreciate this opportunity to explore writing as an extension of science. Most of all I enjoy our discussions of rhetoric.