“Finding My Voice in English 111,” Lauren Murray (2014) — Inquiry 5

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I started out with a working understanding of rhetoric. Intuitively, I knew how to recognize logical, emotional, and credibility claims, and how to apply them to my life. I’d taken a formal logic class which helped my critical thinking about rhetoric to develop. Despite knowing about rhetoric, I’d never rhetorically analyzed my own work. I’d never written a paper deliberately thinking about the members of my audience and how I want each paragraph and sentence to affect them. My writing skills were even less developed. I dreaded writing.  I always had trouble starting the drafting process, and that trouble led to me halfheartedly writing what the instructor wanted and then moving on. I had no passion for expressing myself through text. For that reason, I dreaded this class. I  thought it might even be subjectively harder than my 400-level computer science classes. While this was true at first, my attitude started to change. I learned techniques for beginning drafting, and for pulling useful pieces from the brainstorming process.

As the semester progressed, I began to take the class seriously. I set time apart to work on assignments in advance.  I realized my instructor was knowledgeable and I could learn a lot from her. I learned a lot about revision and rhetoric, and I enjoyed trying to apply what I learned to my work. I started tailoring my work to my chosen audience rather than myself or the instructor.  I opened up to the class and learned a lot from editing the work of my peers. Specifically, I learned nobody’s work is ever perfect, and my peers have interesting and unique viewpoints that I can learn from.

This semester, I learned how to write. I improved in many areas I’ve been weak in for years. I learned how to draft, how to learn from other works, how to analyze the meaning in personal interactions, and how to organize and convey my ideas and thoughts. I learned how to use available resources to do in-depth research on topics of interest, and how to tailor my work to an audience. Most of all, I gained new confidence in myself as a writer and communicator. I’m happy with the direction I’m going in as a writer, and I’m eager to apply my skills to further understand myself and the world.