Although I have taken my blog in a new direction (link to this new blog is in the previous post), I have decided to post one last reflective piece on the semester discussing the overall concepts learned this year and how it has affected my style of writing.
Every incoming freshman has a certain level of uncertainty that builds during the summer and increases as he/she moves in to their respective dorm room, then attends orientation, then hits its climax during the first day of classes. Personally, the tension was not high over the summer, but due to the fact I moved in somewhat late, all the nervousness built up extremely quickly on the walk to each one of my classes for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that each one of my classes had a friendly environment and all my professors had intentions to help all students, regardless of their educational background. The class that I will focus more intently on for the rest of this paper is my English 101 class that was taught by Dr. Boyd.
This excerpt is an example of what my introduction would look like while in high school. Entering my freshman year at Washington College I knew the basics of writing a paper, more specifically, I was an expert at the typical five-paragraph essay format that is engraved in every high school student. Upon completing my first semester at college, I learned three major limits to my style of writing. I was limited in direction and clarity as I commonly used passive voice, I was too vague because I would try to talk about too many topics, and I limited my writing by failing to incorporate texts to back up what I was saying and further solidify my perspective.
Passive voice limits both the writer and the reader because it creates uncertainty. The subject becomes less clear, the verb weakens, and the direct object can become misconstrued. When analyzing my text this semester, I found that I added too much detail resulting in run-on sentences to compensate when using passive voice. Avoiding passive voice in my writing was one of my bigger challenges this semester and will always be a bit of a challenge, but I have noticed when I pay careful attention to it, it has decreased substantially. I believe this is one of the main factors that has caused my writing to be much more direct and clear.
One text that I read this semester was titled, “Is Google making us stupid?” by Nicholas Carr. The text has many different applications, and I have found one personal application in my own writing. It is the concept of surfing the web quickly, skimming for main details and then moving on. When reflecting on my unpredictable essay format, I wondered what was the root of the problem I had with staying focused in my essays. Reflecting on Carr’s text, I began to believe that maybe this issue was caused from this erratic behavior that is so commonly displayed by myself and so many others while on the Internet. I get sidetracked in my ideas, effectively capturing the main ideas of each topic, but each idea is hardly linked to the next, resulting in my paper becoming horrifically encrypted in its overall message.
When discussing the uses and limits to my writing coming into this semester, there were quite a few uses that I found valuable and I wanted to continue. I had solid sentence structure, syntax, and topics to discuss (although usually too many). In the words of Joseph Harris, “It is important to view the positives and negatives of both sides before coming to a conclusion” (Rewriting). Even though my original writing style had its positives, a few minor adjustments would yield the most effect results.
It is much easier to critique than it is to praise, and that is often the case in your own writing. I never felt confident in my work coming into this year, but I am starting to appreciate the strengths of my own style. I know I am far from perfect, but I believe my work is rather effective after revision and that a few minor alterations learned this semester translated into more effective essays. Two projects I have when continuing the never-ending process of improving my writing is to assess the uses and limits when adjusting my style of writing, to debate the strengths and weaknesses of my old style versus the newly proposed ideas. The second is a concept called arguing the other side. I have found that to make my text as clear as it can be I must acknowledge there is an alternative to any decision I make and that there are positives and negatives to it. When approaching a paper this way, it encourages the reader I am not biased and have made a decision with an open mindset.
After completing my first semester as a college student, I do not feel as though I am a strong writer, but I do feel much more confident in my ability to put together a clear and concise paper, with the aid of other texts and concepts learned this semester, to effectively convey my intended message.