Cameron Bolin Professor Whicker English 151 10 February 2012 Writing: A Unique Process
It was first period on the day my big paper was due for my Junior English class. Of course, I was not finished so I had to rapidly throw as much information into my paper as possible. This was how I used to write until I realized that writing is the author͛s unique way of expressing themselves. Most people believe writing is just a process of putting ideas down on paper, but scholarly writers help me prove that there is much more to writing. Think of how you write; do you have to be in the same environment each time with limited distractions, or can you be in a noisy atmosphere? If I am not completely zoned out in my own little world when writing, it seems like I cannot write much more than a few sentences at a time. And that is not the way I like to write; my best papers are produced in one draft, all written in one night. I have often found myself in that frustrating position where nothing seems to come to mind, no matter how hard I try. This can be the most helpless feeling in the world; but by recently acquiring that confidence in my work and determination to produce a successful writing piece, my thoughts have started coming to me more fluently. I see myself as a writer that does my best work when I incorporate events and memories that are important to me in my paper. Everyone has their own style of writing and this is what makes writing so special. It͛s not about following a certain criteria step by step, but rather being able to dig deep inside yourself and pull out that special paper that you may not have even known was there.
So here I am, sitting in a dark room at my desk with the dim lamp-light providing some visibility; that peaceful Jack Johnson beat humming through my headphones, and no disruptions anywhere. What is it about this environment that enables me to write? The best answer I have is that by being secluded in my own room away from anyone and everyone, I have that sense of freedom to write without worrying about all the other tasks I need to accomplish. Like Stephen King wrote in his article, What Writing Is, ͞If you construct your own far-seeing place͙ that͛s your own little red wagon͟ (King 305). I take this as meaning the best writing comes from someone who can get in that special place that they have invented because then you are in your own comfort zone. I know if I am in a crowded area with lots of people around, I can hardly ever write anything productive. The light sound of the air conditioner behind me, along with some music, puts me in my own peaceful world, just me and my laptop. Yet, until that word phrase popped in my head, I hadn͛t even noticed the computer screen. I was envisioning all the papers I had written in the past few years and how the best ones came to me when I was nearly in this same environment. Before finding this comfort zone, I struggled so much with writing.
So there I was, already a junior in high school, and I still had trouble writing papers for my English class. It was so demoralizing spending hours upon hours each day trying to finish a simple paper. I would sit at the library during study hall, attempting to write one of these papers, but all I could think of was what I had to do later that day. Being a team captain on the basketball team, I often spent my time thinking of ways to help the team succeed at the next game or how I could make myself and the rest of the guys better later that evening at practice. Then once I went home that evening, I either wanted to just relax, or I would go through the game play-by-play in my head, thinking of what I could have done better. I felt this was a unique version of a writer͛s block, but it always seemed to affect me. Even when I would clear my mind of the game or practice, I would still have a terrible time coming up with the precise words to fit the paper. Anne Lamott, a scholarly writer, stated it best in her article, Shitty First Drafts, when she said, ͞The right words and sentences just do not come pouring out like ticker tape most of the time͟ (Lamott 301). Don͛t think you͛re the only one that has a tough time writing papers because it is a very common problem that many of us face regularly. The best technique I have found when writing is to get in that right place and make sure to have a nice outline of what you plan to write about. I can always tell after reading my writings whether or not I had it all planned out in its entirety before starting. Planning is a key to my success in writing, as well as getting all my thoughts out and on paper at once.
I see myself as a one-draft writer, although I do take occasional breaks; I try to finish everything in one night because I feel like if I stop and then come back to my paper, I will have to reread it all and try to get back in that writing mood. By being a one-draft writer, I tend to do all of my pre-writing beforehand, by simply designing some structure into my paper so I don͛t get off topic. One-draft writers have a tendency to to do all of their revision and transcribing mentally while they are writing, rather than writing it all out and then revising it afterwards (Harris 178). I think I am a one-draft writer because each time I start writing a sentence, there is a little voice in my head telling me to reword or delete a useless word phrase. By doing this, I edit my paper while I am writing it, instead of after I finish it all. This little voice can be thought as an inner critic because it forces me to keep working at my paper until I am completely satisfied. Fortunately for me, I always had coaches in high school that pushed me to my limits so I had that ability to do the same to myself through that inner critic. Although I often get aggravated for being so critical of my work, I think this helps me produce better papers. If I just accept whatever I write down, then all of my papers will be lousy and unacceptable. I like to make sure everything I do is to my best ability and writing is no different. Allegra Goodman thinks once you relax your inner critic, you will often be able to shrug it off your shoulder and start writing effectively. I strongly agree with her in the article, Calming the Inner Critic and Getting to Work, when she says, ͞Love your material. Nothing frightens the inner critic more than the writer who loves her work͟ (Goodman 309). This goes back to what I said in the introduction about having confidence in what I write. A few years ago when I was not very confident in my papers, I could never please my inner critic no matter how hard I tried. Nowadays, I write with that self-assurance in my work and it turns out to be extremely beneficial. This doesn͛t mean I think my writing is as great as scholarly authors, but it does give me a boost to write with self-confidence.
Perhaps you like to write in a crowded school library for one to two hour intervals each day until you finish a paper. Or maybe you are able to write without that pesky inner critic telling you what is wrong or needs changed. This is the beauty of writing because there is not one set and stone way of performing a writing task. Yes, everyone finishes with a relatively similar looking draft, but what is inside the lines comes deep inside of that individual writer. For me, that comfort zone is required and I need to limit all distractions, while also writing my whole draft at one time. Confidence is crucial in satisfying my inner critic, as well as allowing me to believe that my paper will turn out to be well-written. Look for that comfort zone and calm your inner critic, if this is a problem you encounter when writing. You can look at writing as an assignment, or a chance to express your thoughts and feelings; the choice is yours.
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