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Catherine Anderson Ingram English 1103 December 1, 2012 Writing is a Process The biggest challenge I have faced in English 1103 this semester, is trying to decide what should go into my final portfolio. Looking back, I see just how much work I have accomplished in only a few short months. All five major assignments included brainstorming, drafting, editing, cover letters, and final papers. I can find some sort of importance or growth in each piece I have completed, but which ones show what I have learned and how my writing has changed? Through class discussions and activities I have learned that formal writing can be personal, how to thoroughly perform research, and how to give and receive feedback as a writer. I chose to organize my portfolio by what has impacted my writing the most. In my brainstorming I wrote down all of our assignments thinking that I may simply organize my work chronologically. However, I realized that would not be enough to show what I learned. After writing down themes or topics from class, I picked the three that really impacted my writing; risk taking, the research process, and giving and receiving feedback as a part of the editing process. I focus much of my time on the “What’s It Like To Be You,” essay and the final research paper to show how my writing has grown from the beginning to the end of the semester. The first big lesson I got in English 1103 was a lesson in risk taking. Our very first warm up we did in class asked us to point out our weaknesses when it comes to writing, I have three: introductions, conclusions, and poety. After writing down my weaknesses, I decided that I wanted to turn them into strengths. For me, improving upon these three things meant taking risk.

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In order to grow or get better at something I believe you have to step outside of our comfort zone and work at it. This became my first challenge in English 1103. I have included both my first and final draft of the “What’s It Like To Be You,” essay to show how my writing has transformed through taking risk. After pointing out one of my weaknesses as writing introductions, I took a risk in my very first draft of my WILTBY essay by comparing my life to a roller coaster. I believe the creativity I used in the paragraph gave me more confidence in my own writing because I proved that not only was I fully capable of writing a good introduction but I could even be creative. Part of my introduction reads, “You’re on top of the world- only for a moment. Without warning you are once again sent flying into the unknown.” For me, this was a big step in my writing. I’ve never been a creative person, so I was especially proud of this. I think this was helpful to my writing as a whole this semester because I proved to myself that I could overcome challenges. This confidence and creativity carried through into our challenge of including a poem in our essay. Ever since we began analyzing Shakespearean sonnets in the eighth grade, I have hated poetry with a passion. I didn’t like the rules, or how poets would take 50 lines to say something simple like “I love you.” To me, poetry always seemed pointless. While editing my first draft I realized poetry can help fill the gaps when I couldn’t put my thoughts into a coherent paragraph. In my first draft, I had trouble describing where I came from and how much I enjoyed my high school experience. In my first draft, I found myself listing what I enjoyed about high school because there was too much to explain. Although this got the point across that I really did enjoy highschool, it did not show my reader what it was like to be me. In order to help situate what I went through and what I used poems. These poems allowed me to briefly describe what I loved about high school without boring my reader.

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The last thing the “What’s It Like To Be You,” essay taught me was that even the most personal piece of writing can be considered formal. Before coming into English 1003 I thought formal writing only consisted of research papers, reports, and evaluations. After completing this essay I understand that formal writing is any piece of writing that goes through the writing process. Formal writing involves brainstorming, drafting, editing, and revising. Informal writing is often writing that you do to help your formal writing. The informal writing we completed in class, warm-ups, notes, and blogs, were used as aids to help us in our formal writing. As I previously mentioned, I pinpointed my weaknesses in our very first warm-up. This has been the most helpful piece of informal writing I completed this year. Throughout the year I have worked in each and every paper to get better at writing introductions and conclusions. To start our research process off, we did a warm-up talk about what inquiry meant to us. My response was relatively short; I said, “To me the word inquiry means to question a subject or topic.” I have since learned that inquiry is what sparks ideas for research. Our first step in the inquiry process was done through blogging. This was something I had never done before. I always thought of it as a way to express your feelings or detail an event going on in your life. This year I have found that it can be helpful in clearing your mind when all of your thoughts are jumbled. Blogging assisted me throughout the process of our research by allowing me to get all of my thoughts out. Since our blog was informal I did not feel pressure when I was writing. I used my blog to help figure out what aspect of health I was interested in. I tried to imagine myself as an actually blogger and simply began writing about what I was interested in. No pressure, just writing. After a few minutes I focused in on sleep. Throughout the semester blogging taught me to let go when I write. I have found that if I simply write, things will come

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together. It also taught me that if you simply start writing and getting your thoughts on to paper, things will eventually fall in to place. This semester was the first time I have ever had to write a research paper in so many steps. In high school I would do some research, write a first draft, edit my spelling and grammatical mistakes, and turn my paper in, all in one day. This year I have learned that how beneficial it can be to take your time in the process of researching. Once I realized that I wanted to look into sleep I began looking in to what was being said about sleep. In high school, I would have come up with a thesis and then began researching. The annotated bibliography allowed me to gain a general knowledge of sleep as a whole; from there I was able to see what aspects of sleep I was really interested in. Later I found myself more invested in the research because I understood what was being said about my topic and where people were generating their ideas from. The blog became part of the research process for me when completing our second blog post. I found this post to be challenging because I had never examined a topic from various points of view. At first it was difficult but it eventually helped me understand the research process more. In order to write a research paper you need to be aware of what is being said so you can establish yourself as a credible source. After seeing what so many different people were saying, I found myself easily generating ideas for my final research topic. This blog post lead into the 3-sided assignment. To me, these two assignments were practically the same. In the first cover letter for the 3-sided assignment I wrote, “The most challenging part of writing this draft was that I had difficulty seeing the difference between this assignment and our most recent blog post… I suppose this could be a good thing, it means that I did my blog post well and that I really took the time to think about what I was being asked to write about.” I now can see that it

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was a good thing that these two assignments overlapped so much. The blog was simply a step in the research process. This whole process taught me that when you take the time to thoroughly do your research, writing can become so much easier. Something I was also unfamiliar with was going through the writing process completely and thoroughly. In high school, I received good grade for the work I started and finished the night before it was due. I have learned in these past few months that I cannot get away with such laziness in college. Pre-work has been a major part of my writing this semester. Brainstorming, outlining, and drafting have been a must-do for almost every assignment I have completed in and outside of English class. Although these things have been beneficial, I think the most important part of the writing process I have learned about and improved upon is the editing process. In reading Richard Straub’s article on responding, I learned that in editing, you are looking for much more than spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. When responding to a piece of work in an earlier stage, I have leaved to look at the overall goal of the writer. When you know the goal, you can look at each paragraph or sentence to see if that goal is being met. Although Straub’s article was about responding to others work, I found it most help to me when it came to responding to my own work. After the writing the first draft of our research paper, we completed the side-shadowing activity in which we were asked to identify the purpose of each paragraph and the things that supported it. After responding to other students work using ideas from Straub’s article I found this assignment to be fairly easy but also very effective. As I mentioned before I often struggle with introductions and conclusions. During the side shadowing activity I wrote a note at the very end saying, “The main things missing are concluding sentences. Ideas are left open…”. Going through each paragraph separately allowed me to see the ones that were complete and the ones that were not. In my first draft I ended one paragraph

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with, “This is likely to harm their daily performance because the body cannot function at its best without a good night’s sleep.” Ending on this note would not be the worst thing I could do but I wanted to keep working on my conclusions like I said I would in the beginning of the semester. After thinking of how I could better conclude this paragraph I came up with, “This is likely to harm their daily performance because the body cannot function at its best without a good night’s sleep. In my experience, most teachers want their students to succeed. In order to help them do so, teachers should reconsidered the amount of work they assign outside of the class room and focus on getting more work in the seven hour school day.” I think this works better because not only to I point out the problem, I also suggest a solution. Without the solution the topic remains open, there was no closure. My final challenge with the research paper came from conferencing with Ms. Ingram. I received a note saying, “Appeal to pathos?” This was something I had never really worked with. Unconsciously I had already begun to do so in my opening paragraph. Here, I situated my argument by reminding readers what a student goes through every day. The emotional appeal is what makes readers interested. In order to hold this interest I needed to add more emotional appeal throughout my paper. To do so, I added simple things that would remind adults what it was like to be a student. In my first draft I said, “During school students spend seven hours taking in new information about several different topics.” In the final draft I added, “Dates, people, places, and rules, are drilled in to their heads in such a short amount of time, it would be hard for anyone to keep up especially a sleep deprived student.” In doing so I hope to make my readers remember something they had trouble with in school and how much harder learning things was when you are sleepy. I think I was able to accomplish both of my goals, appealing to pathos and writing better conclusions in the final draft of my research paper.

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In organizing and writing my final portfolio essay, I hope to have proven how much effort I have put in to this class and each assignment. My portfolio as a whole shows my weaknesses turning into strengths. I set many goals in my writing this year and I believe my portfolio shows the steps I took to accomplish each one. As for a grade, I truly believe I deserve an A for this class. I attended class every day and used my time wisely during workshops and in class activities. Although I was not always the first to raise my hand to respond to a question, I did make an effort to contribute discussions. I was always prepared for class, I completed my drafts on time and had copies for my group when we needed them. They main reason I deserve an A is the amount of time and effort I put in to my writing this year. I set a goal to write better introductions and conclusions and I met this goal on more than one occasion.