“My Life As a Writer,” Tessa Newland (2011) — Inquiry 5

Going into high school, I did not understand how some people are ‘good’ writers while others are not. I could not grasp the concept of working on a paper as much as I would study for a test. I wrote essays, revised them for grammatical mistakes, but never spent a significant amount of time making sure that my argument was cohesive or relatable for the audience. Through the four years of high school, I quickly learned the traditional route of writing essays. We were tested regularly in every subject to write the standard five paragraph essays. This was considerably helpful for me, as I could easily tie my argument together and spent more time incorporating outside information or quotations. Unfortunately, when I finally felt like I had mastered these skills, it was time to head to Miami and learn a whole new skill set in terms of writing and researching. I tried not to dwell on this aspect of the transition, as I figured it was only natural that I would move on at some point and explore other styles of writing. In addition, I have always been aware that having new teachers or bosses even poses a new challenge as I must adapt and write for different types of audiences.

In terms of strengths, I would definitely consider the traditional paper and transitions a stronger point in my writing. Having been so comfortable with the more structured format, I fall back into this pattern easily when I’m writing. As much as this has been a good thing, especially for in-class essays or history essays, it can also provide a greater obstacle when presented with a different prompt. For example, when we analyzed a website’s rhetorical appeals, I found myself going into the five-paragraph rhythm of writing. I had to consciously get out of my comfort zone to successfully analyze and explain the website’s effectiveness. Thus, my ease with traditional papers, in which introduction and conclusion paragraphs tend to sound robotic and monotonous at times, has proved to be one of my strengths as a writer but I recognize that it also challenges me when I should consider using a different style.

On the other hand, writing about myself has posed the biggest challenge for me. I have shared how the traditional paper has been the norm in my writing career, and the majority of this involved evaluating books or texts and analyzing historical events. This impersonal aspect of my writing made it even more robotic as I stuck to certain transitional phrases, key words, and connecting ideas to fall back on when I was not entirely sure what a passage was about or could not think of better phrasing. This past semester, we have had to share personal opinions and fully explain our writing. I found this particularly difficult just because I am not accustomed to writing about myself or justifying my revisions. Overall, this was important for me to do, in my opinion, so that I could truly explore various styles and get more comfortable writing about myself.

In these ways, my views about writing have significantly changed over this past semester, especially regarding writing styles and also writing about myself. The diverse writing styles that we have used in our inquiries this semester was so beneficial in that I was able to go outside my box and try new things. The analysis of the website posed a challenge as I could no longer use my standard transitional phrases or the usual concluding points. In addition, writing about my personal experience with the English language forced me to reflect and really delve into the issue. For example, when writing my writer’s letters, I began each one with “For my final revision…” to show that I was describing the changes that I made to the final version. I did not realize that I used this phrase to start every single writer’s letter. However, for the last inquiry I just went right into describing my PSAs and what I sought to achieve and how I appealed to my audiences. This change shows small changes I have made in my writing, drifting away from the more traditional approach. Overall, these major differences in writing have taught me so much about the depth involved in writing and how we, as writers, can continue learning about the writing process and growing in our skill set and expanding our comfort zone.

As I continue writing in other classes, I look forward to learning different styles of writing and becoming more comfortable with these new approaches. Our analysis and application of rhetoric introduced me to a whole new world of writing as I came to realize the significance and use of rhetorical devices. All three of the devices we have discussed this semester are so important in writing and the outside world. As I take other classes and go into the work force, I will need to recognize how individuals or companies use these rhetorical appeals to affect their audiences. I hope to apply what we have learned productively and consider the effect of these appeals whenever I listen to a commercial, write a paper, or read a book. This new approach to writing has enabled me to truly appreciate the thought and preparation put into writing papers and I hope that I continue to take this into account as I continue to write in other classes.

Furthermore, I hope to continue working on how I structure essays and creating a more cohesive argument. I believe that I can use my knowledge about rhetorical appeals to evaluate the most effective way to come across to an audience so as to be more persuasive and focus on the main idea of the essay. Also, I have recognized that the traditional paper, albeit useful, is not always the best option and I look forward to challenging myself in the future and using different approaches to writing. In my opinion, these skills always need to be honed and it is crucial that I make an effort to consider different writing options and connect my arguments to make a stronger paper overall. I found that our free-write activities especially helpful as well, and now recognize how beneficial brainstorming and preparing is for any type of paper. In the future, I plan on using this preparation to ensure that I am fulfilling all of the requirements of the assignment and fully explaining my arguments. In conclusion, I will need to further improve my ability to write in non-traditional styles and use more effective preparation techniques to generate more organized arguments that are fully supported throughout my paper.