This is an experiment. My lack of productivity is too real right now and I need to write the rough draft of this paper. A short while ago, I was staring at Microsoft Word for a good ten minutes without any avail. Amazingly, I was able to force three sentences of halfway decent writing onto the page. Then, my brain stopped working (okay, well, if it actually stopped working I’d be dead, but what I’m trying to say is I had no motivation to continue writing). I was at a loss for words. I had no inspiration. Instead, I played a game of 2048. I looked to see if there were any new posts on Instagram (nope). I spent five more minutes staring at the page, the three sentences I had managed to write glaring at me in disappointment; why can’t you complete us, Britta? they asked. I then complained to my friend and classmate who is sitting across the table from me about my lack of inspiration and how real my procrastination has become.
Then I had an idea.
When I am writing posts on WordPress, the words come to me. I feel inspired. Unlike the dreary and, quite frankly, depressing white space provided by a blank document on Microsoft Word, I feel enlivened when I’m writing on WordPress. Well, part of that is because I know I’m not writing for school on WordPress. School papers are so hard partly because they are associated with well, school. Even my favorite projects this semester ended up becoming harder to complete because they were labeled as assignments. More importantly, though, I think there’s just an undeniable excitement that comes with preparing a blog post for publication. With the click of a button, my words will be shared with this wonderful WordPress community that I have so recently joined. I will be contributing to this beautiful conversation that is happening on a daily basis between bloggers. There is such a personal satisfaction that comes from that knowledge.
With all this in mind, I wondered, could I successfully write this paper in the word processor on WordPress? Sure, it’s a school assignment, but maybe completing it on WordPress would make it seem less school-like. Microsoft Word has become associated with school and productivity in my mind, so I thought maybe I just needed to take a break from it. With that in mind, I closed out of Microsoft Word–where the success of papers goes to die until 3 in the morning on their due date–and opened up WordPress. I am happy to announce that I am writing this paper on WordPress…and it is working! The words are coming! Why didn’t I think of this before? I very well may publish this just because I can…I mean, why not? This is what writing is all about. Coming to new discoveries. Trying new things. Feeling inspired.
I would not have been comfortable writing this paper on WordPress’ word processor six months ago. I would have probably thought this was a little crazy, in fact. Now? Now I think that this is genius. I also know that I have Understanding Writing to thank for my will to go through with this. I would be not be sitting here writing a paper that I fully intend to turn in as a school assignments on a word processor designed for blogging without Understanding Writing. At the beginning of the semester, I came into this class wanting to improve my writing. I also wanted to gain a better general understanding of my own writing process. I didn’t really know what to expect with this class, other than that I’d be writing a whole hell of a lot. I had talked to students who had taken this class in previous years and knew it would be a lot of work. I’d probably cry a few times. I had also heard that this was an extremely rewarding class; I didn’t realize to what extent until I was experiencing the class for myself.
Looking back at the writer I was on the first day of class in August and putting her up against the writer I am now, I see two different people. Understanding Writing has improved my writing, yes, but it has also improved my overall mindset when it comes to writing. I think differently about writing. I view writing as a conversation, one of the key ideas we read and talked about; that conversation happens with myself while I am in the middle of the writing process and it also happens with others when I allow other people to read my work. Academically speaking, I have been able to see the process of writing as a conversation in action in the workshop groups we had in class; also, in the comments we made on each other’s literacy autobiography final drafts on Google Drive. It was so cool to see what my classmates were writing about. I learned so much from their writing and I wish other classes would put more of a focus on peer reviewing and discussing each other’s work in-depth. It’s so helpful and so rewarding. Sometimes students are able to learn just as much from each other as from the teacher and the assigned readings.
With the help of Understanding Writing, I’ve also been able to view my personal writing as a conversation as I become more active in the blogosphere. I’ve been writing on my current blog since August; only recently have I started gaining more followers and receiving more views on a regular basis. Since the early days of my blog, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get more followers. I read one tip somewhere that suggested writing shorter sentences within each post. According to the article I read this tip in, shorter sentences keep people’s attention longer; I also believe this writer stated that shorter sentences were “polite” to the reader. I really wanted to get my writing out there. You might say I was desperate. So I tried writing shorter sentences than I usually do for a few of my posts. Needless to say, it didn’t work out too well in gaining new followers; furthermore, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the work I was producing because I felt I wasn’t being true to myself as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I think short sentences can be extremely effective at times. Lately, I have been utilizing them more often when I want to get a point across quickly and effectively. Also, really long sentences do become hard to follow and aren’t always the most effective at easily conveying information. However, in trying to construct a whole blog post out of really short sentences, I wasn’t staying true to myself as a writer. I felt stifled. I quickly gave up on the short sentences endeavor and searched for different ways to gain followers.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I realized the value of actively keeping up with other blogs and commenting on them. Simply put, if you show you care, people are more apt to like you. By actively following and commenting on other people’s blogs, I began to get more views (and more follows) because I was actively putting my name out there; furthermore, people wanted to return the favor by checking out my own blog. In this experience, I learned that I don’t have to change my writing style–something I consider to be a part of my own identity–to get my writing out there. If people really like my writing, they’ll stick around my blog. If not, at least they gave it a try! I can’t force anyone to like the way I write or what I write, after all.
More importantly than my personal quest to get my writing out there in the blogosphere, I very quickly realized how valuable my participation in the blogosphere was for carrying on conversations. If writing is, indeed, a conversation as I believe it is, WordPress is the absolute perfect place to join the conversation in a non-academic setting. Given my drive and determination to get more views, I can safely say that I would have eventually realized the importance of engaging with other writers regardless of if I had taken Understanding Writing. However, I probably wouldn’t have understood how valuable those conversations can be. I’ve learned so much from these conversations already, and have recently met some really cool and inspiring fellow writers.
Understanding Writing has enabled me to see what I value most in the writing process. I’ve been sitting with this idea of writing as a conversation for most of the semester, since we discussed it fairly early on. It’s the one idea about writing that we’ve read about and discussed that I keep coming back to as I continue on in my own writing endeavors. I think that has a lot to do with my personality–as an introvert who has always felt a little alienated in this extremely extroverted society, the fact that writing can be a conversation is extremely meaningful to me. It has allowed me to communicate with people from all over the place while still allowing me to enjoy the comforts of my own introverted sphere. It has allowed me to become more confident as a writer, not just in my personal writing, but also in my academic writing. This semester, I found a voice–my voice–in my academic writing that I never knew existed. The academic papers that I’ve written this semester have been more conversational and a little less stuffy. I’m still developing my skills as an academic writer, but I truly believe this class has helped me on the right track in that endeavor.
***To be continued in final draft form***
Hey all, you might be wondering what the purpose of this assignment is (“what is all this blabbering about your personal life in a school paper, Britta?”)
This paper is supposed to be a personal because it is a reflection paper of what I took took away from the class. I will be revising and expanding on it a lot (it has to be expanded, it’s not long enough for the final version), but I’m pretty happy about where it’s at now.
As you may have gathered from my post, this is for my Understanding Writing class (yes, yes, that strange and elusive Understanding Writing class has made its way into my blog again). In case you are wondering, yes I actually am submitting this to my professor tomorrow and yes, I know it is messy. My professor actually encourages messy for this paper, so even though it will be cleaned up for the rough draft, it will still probably be messy (I dare so it will be even messier in the final draft as I try to incorporate a few more ideas into it).
I’d like to point out that I never, ever would have written a school paper so informally at the beginning of this semester. I probably would never write a paper this informally for any other class, but I know my Understanding Writing professor is okay with informal (a side effect of being a composition studies scholar, I think).
Even though this was initially done for my own personal benefit to actually, you know, stop procrastinating, I’m really excited to be sharing it with you all. I hope you are all able to get a better understanding of why this class has meant so much to me, why I can’t stop thinking and writing and talking about it. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again—Understanding Writing has changed my life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this rough draft! Have any suggestions for the final draft? Throw them out!