Mayra Jimenez Antunez
English 10/11 M
How to become a successful writer
The writing process is a step by step process that requires different stages. Every writer has a different and unique writing process. We as writers have a different routines or ways on how we chose to write our papers. I have a specific routine that I have been following since middle school, which is the five-paragraph format. Since I have been in college for almost five weeks I’ve learned that the style I have been using is not the correct way to write an essay. Many of us were taught the five-paragraph format. The five-paragraph format consist of five paragraphs which in the first paragraph is introduction after that it followed up with three body paragraphs, lastly, the last paragraph is conclusion. Since I was taught to write in this format, this was my routine on how I wrote my essays in middle school and high school.
The first thing I do when writing an essay is think about what I’m going to write about, but most of the times a topic was already picked for me, it made it much easier. Once I knew what I needed to talk about I would gather all my thoughts relating to the topic and write it down on a piece of paper. I would make an outline of the things I was going to discuss before writing. As I mentioned before I only focused on five paragraphs, because if I wrote more than five paragraphs my points were deducted. In the first paragraph I always wrote down the most important thing which was my thesis. My thesis would go at the last sentience of my first paragraph. For my three body paragraphs I picked six examples in total, two for each paragraph and then explain myself why I included those examples. And lastly came my conclusion which I wrapped up everything and mentioned my thesis as well.
Most people write their first draft, then a final draft. I have never written a first draft. I cannot be the only one who has done this right? I wish I was told to write a first draft paper. Writing the first draft could have helped me a lot more in writing and in receiving a better grade. Anne Lamott, a writer and creative writing instructor, mentions that it is correct to write first shitty drafts because all writers have them even the professional writers. It was how Anne Lamott describes our first draft is, it was not the best but with practice, I will get better and become a better writer. What I will do before anything is always starting with a draft, I will incorporate Lamott’s ideas into my essays in the future. For example, I always get anxious when writing because it made me scared or nervous that I wasn’t doing a good job but with Lamott’s ideas I could get better. In page 22 she mentions “A first draft is the child’s draft” Lamott mentions this because no one will see the first draft and we can throw our ideas into it. A child when playing throws all the toys on the floor, and then chooses which toy they want to play with. This is the same situation with our first drafts, I can throw everything on my piece of paper, and later choose which I want to explain more in detail.
I always had a hard time starting up my introduction, I would sit there and try to make my introduction the best, I would sit around for an hour trying to figure out how I needed to start my essay. To include my thesis in the last sentence of my introduction was hard because it had to make sense. For me, I always start my first sentence with a statement or even a question and go from there.
My body paragraphs were always smooth because I only need to have two examples for each of my body paragraphs. As I wrote my essay I never thought of the audience or the process of me writing my essay. Linda flower is an English professor at Carnegie- Mellon University, who has written many books and articles including writing for an audience. Linda Flower tells us there are things to know about our audience. One of them is knowledge. How much knowledge does our audience already have on the topic, do we need to start from the bottom? These are questions I always need to ask myself. Another thing to think about are attitudes, which is what is their perspectives or their point of view. And lastly are needs, what does the audience need to know, or need to hear. All these three things are important, I myself have their thought of this, now understanding what I must think about my audience in the future. When writing in the future I will include all these three ideas, I will adapt my own knowledge to the needs of the reader. For example, I will prepare everything before and think why I am doing this and who will be the reader.
Coming to my conclusion I felt a mixed of emotions. I felt relieved, excited and scare. All of this I felt as I was writing and finishing my conclusion. I felt relieved because I was almost done with my essay, there was no more to do. Relieved was what I felt after I finished my essay because of all the hard work I had done, especially my conclusion because it was hardest to write for me because I did not know how. I felt excited and scared at the same time. I was excited to see what grade I might receive, but I was also scared to know how good or bad I did. I am never confident in my writings, I feel I may have not done a good work, or I may have not talked more about a certain topic.
Finishing my essay was a great feeling, due to struggling in my first paragraph all the way to my last. Donald Murray who has won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorials in the Boston Globe in 1954, who has made the art of writing his business for decades informs us how we should revise our papers after finishing writing it. Personally, what I have done in the past is re-read it once or twice and change any misspelled words I notice as reading it over. I was also never taught in high school how we as writers should revise our papers. In the first paragraph of Murray’s article it says, “When students complete the first draft, they consider it the job of writing done.” This is was my case all throughout middle school and high school, because I was never taught about how revision changes the overall message of an essay. I only wrote my paper once and that was my final paper. He also mentions in his article that most writers scan and read quickly through their papers, to catch and bigger problems or subjects and not focusing on the small details.
Donald Murray says that there are eight important things that we as writers need to look for when revising our paper. The first one is information, what is the information about, how us as writers going to address the information. Second is the meaning, what is the meaning of this writing. For example, the third thing is what the meaning of this essay and to tell the audience what my writing process is. The fourth thing is our formation, which carries meaning to the reader. The fifth is our structure, how are we going to structure our writing. Next is development, we need to give the reader enough information, and we need to know how much the reader already knows and where should we start. Next is our dimension, “There must be a pleasing and effective proportion among all parts of the piece of writing.” (Murray 53). Lastly, the eight things to think about when revising our paper is our voice. Murray mentions that we must listen to our own voice, our voice is the force which drives a piece forward. These eight things are great for me because this advice influences me to look and think about the reader and not just my opinions.
As I was writing my writing process I noticed things that I have never thought of to include in my writing process or revising my paper. I will always continue to write out my thoughts and things that come up in my head when thinking about the topic. The eight things Murray mentions I will use in my future writing. I will always revise my paper before turning it in and when writing I will focus more on the reader instead if myself. Writers don’t just become good writers, they work hard and so can we can to become good writers.
Mayra Jimenez Antunez