“Help from Hemingway,” Dylan Hines (2015) — Inquiry 1

Writer’s Reflection:

It was very helpful to put myself in the shoes of the reader as I edited my work here. In class we are focusing on making our work more compelling and utilizing our ethos in order to engage our audience. I imagined myself reading this work to a big audience in an auditorium of teenage kids. In my case whenever my high school would have guest speakers the students just found it as an excuse to use their phones for the next hour and a half. So with this essay I tried to be upfront and straightforward with my experience. If I am able to catch the reader’s attention then they will be more willing to listen to my story, making my advice more easily understood.

I took almost all advice my peers gave to me. I respected the fact that they did not try to change my words, rather offered advice and allowed to me take the revisions or leave my own work. I enjoyed hearing that my peers were picking up on small adjustments I would make in my writing. For instance, this essay is about how I would try and make my sentences shorter and more to the point. So I tried to incorporate that into this piece as well and not just tell the audience what I have learned. I was also advised to expand my conclusion and beef it up with heavier ideas while I wrap up my extensive ideology.  

I have learned that it is so crucial to not procrastinate by writing your entire essay in one day. In high school I would get lazy. This led to met finishing my paper just hours before I was set to hand it in. With this paper I would write a chunk one day and then maybe take a day off to allow my thoughts to reset. If I were to put it all down on one day I would run out of ideas and just find myself struggling to meet the word count. It is much more enjoyable to write three 500 word papers instead of one 1,500 word piece.

That leads me to my final point, which is that when you make your writing more of a hobby instead of a task, you can get your message across with relative ease. Inquiry One also helped me practice my new writing style. Because I learned to space out my writing sessions, I was also able to implement more real world occurrences into my work. For example in my third paragraph I talk about a television show I was watching three days after starting my first draft.  Writing Inquiry One was a thought provoking, enjoyable essay.


My writing style has always been rather distinct despite the cookie cutter approach my early educators took throughout my pre-college years. Each year it seemed we learned a new distinct style of writing. What remained consistent with me was my inability to simply throw my concrete ideas down on paper. Too often I found myself using run-on sentences that may have sounded good to my own ear but lacked the ability to catch the reader’s attention. I fell in love with commas at an early age. It sounds ridiculous yet I felt the pauses made my message sound more mature and similar to that of illustrious authors I looked up to. Luckily I found inspiration and am on my way to ameliorating my writing ability.

Not until last year, my senior year in high school did I change my old techniques. I began to read. Books were never really my interest growing up. I almost always would prefer a basketball in my hand or a soccer ball at my feet. Yet when I began to struggle with my writing I looked for help. On the first assignment of my senior year my english teacher gave me back my paper with no grade on it. All he did was leave a small note and at the end wrote “rewrite please”. This hit me really hard. The experience was embarrassing. While my classmates were comparing grades I was only left with a small personal note. That note told me to read a chapter or two of a book I could find that focused on simplistic writing styles. The first books I started to read were written by the master of simple, adorned writing, Ernest Hemingway. Obviously I had my teachers there to fix what I had already put down on paper but I was looking for a more drastic change. I was tired of seeing red marks up and down my paper, simply put, my writing was struggling. So I began to read to simplify my words. I thought to myself in any presentation if you engage your audience the whole message is more conclusive and delivered with meaning. So I wanted to transition this idea into my writing. Fewer words with more meaning.  After reading Hemingway I started to focus my attention on the nouns and not the adjectives that just take up space. This led me to take pride in every word I put on paper. Hemingway’s writing told stories. During my writing career I have written few, if any, legitimate stories like that of Hemingway. His words did not teach me to write masterful works that would be loved by millions around the world. He simply led me to use my words more efficiently. Clear all the excess by focusing on the meat of my ideas. My teacher helped me further develop this style by having our class find the lyrics to our favorite childhood song. It was painful, he had us strip down the lyrics to the basics. The end result was eye opening, the message of the songs were never lost. The only difference was the childish nature and rhythm of the jingle had disappeared. The exercise symbolized what our teacher was looking for in our own writing. He was seeking more mature, straightforward and direct ideology in our work.

Just a couple days ago I was watching a TV show called Mind Games, which taught viewers how to best understand the functions of your brain. One point the show made was that the best way to conquer old habits is to replace them with new habits. The first thing that popped into my head was this essay. Instead of trying to fix my old habits that had me struggling to wrap up my ideas, I just adopted a radically new style. This new technique helped me break those old habits and in essence forget the past. I was inadvertently replacing my bad habits with an improved approach.

In order to help my transition with this new style of writing I had to continue my reading. I regret not falling in love with a series of books when I was younger. So many of my peers had authors that they followed constantly and by doing this they were able to pick up on their literary genius. If I were to give advice to young writers it would be to read a wide range of literature. Growing up I always associated “reading” with books. Looking back I wish I could have realized that I did not have to read a 300 page novel to gain knowledge and insight from the author. Eventually the only book I would read would be those assigned by my teachers in school. That was when reading became a task and not a hobby. It took me until my senior year to make reading less of a burden and more of a leisure activity. Reading my early high school papers makes me see the blatant mistakes I would make that lead me to confusing, unnecessary and run on sentences. If you as a writer are looking to complete a task with your writing then it is helpful to connect your ideas to real life situations. As noted before when I write my persuasive essays I picture myself reading my work in front of twelve of the most important businessmen in the country. By doing this I find more and more ideas popping into my head. Before we wrote our senior year autobiographies my parents had me look through old pictures I had from my childhood. Actions like this help provoke deeper, more intuitive thought.

Now as a first year college student I am excited to put my new writing approach to the test of college level work. I am honestly looking forward to making and overcoming mistakes that will for sure formulate over my years at Miami. You cannot practice writing for a month and all of the sudden be the second coming of Jane Austen. Writing ability is such a process; if you are willing to learn and advance your work, success can follow. After being in the same education system from Kindergarten through 12th grade I look forward to developing ideas with new professors and learning side by side with different classmates from around the country.