Tuesday, December 11, 2012

11/25- 12/2 Prompt: Cross-Pollination?

My experience as a tutor has significantly affected my other school work. Although I felt like the amount of writing for this class at times was excessive, my writing skills only improve through practice. While a year ago a five page paper seemed daunting and overwhelming, now I can sit down and write a ten page paper in a day or two plus editing time. I know this has come from writing so much and so frequently because having to spit a three page response out sometimes two times in one week makes a five page paper feel like nothing and a ten page paper seem very manageable.

When editing my own papers, I find myself missing some of the things I am telling students: transitions, “So What?,” connections to the thesis. I get frustrated that I miss the same things that I am using authority to tell students to do. However, I accept that I don’t spit out perfect papers any more than any other writer does, and I am taking the time to edit and catch these things. What I am improving on is realizing that I’m making these oversights. I (mostly) know when I have not made my point and when I have rocky transitions.

What I have been applying to my writing process are steps that we discuss in class. Although I did not realize it or purposely start doing so, I have started free writing to brainstorm and making outlines. I did not realize it because my outlines aren't numbered or lettered, but I am making outlines my writing down my main ideas and sub-points. My writing has vastly improved since then because I know where I’m starting and the points that I want to make. This is much easier than throwing all my ideas down in paragraphs that follow one another but lack any real organization. Although I do have to tear apart my essays and move parts around, it is much easier to start with structure than organize ideas that are haphazardly thrown together.

My thinking about myself as a student has changed because some of the mysteries of college have been cleared up. Before tutoring, I probably felt the same way as a lot of students—what’s the point of writing a paper. The answer I have is that a well constructed essay proves that you understand the material. That’s the simple answer. The deeper reason is that I’ve learned to think critically. The “So What” question is so simple and yet not at all. Taking my thinking a step further is not only going to benefit me in the class for which I am writing, but also in other classes and in real life. I may never write an essay after I graduate, but I have learned how to organize my thoughts, really question what I am thinking and information I am taking in, and pay attention to details. Plus, being an English major, a lot of my essays involve close readings of literature, which I hope to always do.


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