Advanced Composition

Reading & Writing in Digital Environments

Tag: writing

Writing is Technology

The article “Writing Restructures Consciousness” was hard to follow, but it did prove good points. I plan to write about a few topics discussed in class today along with several key points from this article.

The first topic we discussed was the difference between writing  and talking. I feel more comfortable carrying on a conversation with someone rather than writing (like I am now) to express myself. I feel as if sometimes writing can hinder me from getting my point across. When I am writing, I feel like I have thoroughly explained myself; however, when I get my paper back, the teacher has written off to the side “What do you mean?” I guess when writing, sometimes we think to ourselves that we have argued our point to the best ability, but some of the argument could still be in our head- just not on the paper. It feels more natural to me to talk to someone because I can defend my thoughts, but with writing, it is hard to defend yourself when your writing cannot literally speak. Socrates held it against writing that written word cannot defend itself. Writing just does not come natural to me like I wish it did because being an English major would be much easier if it did. Talking to others does take process, but it is more natural for me to open my mouth to talk rather than pick up a pencil to write.

Another point we discussed in class today was whether we agree or disagree with Socrates’ belief that writing destroys memory. I agree with this because when I take notes in class, I am only archiving my thoughts to reference later to prepare for a test or remember something discussed in class. It also helps my brain to not work as hard because if I forget something discussed in one of my classes, chances are I have it written down. I honestly could not remember everything discussed in all my classes by just listening to the information. I need to write it down. I can understand how writing destroys our memory by forcing us to not have to remember things,  but writing does however help us store information. We would probably know nothing of Socrates or the other great philosophers if someone had not written anything down. If the only way of knowing of these people was from stories passed down from generation to generation, some of the information might get a little twisted.

Overall, this discussion of the article in class was very thought provoking. It made me question whether writing truly is a technology and whether it destroys our memory.

Don’t Take it Personally: On Writing in General

As I went through the process of writing and rewriting my personal narrative, I found that my biggest struggle was letting go of my fear that it somehow wouldn’t be “good enough.” Coincidentally, my narrative was about an incident in high school when I had done really well on something I had worked really hard on only to be told later (by my then boyfriend of all people) that, even though I had gotten a good grade, my work really wasn’t as good as the grade implied. Instead of brushing it off, I really let that get to me and I’ve been my own biggest critic ever since. And writing about something personal only made it that much harder. As I wrote I wondered if other people could identify a moment when they felt like whatever they were doing wasn’t good enough. I thought to myself, “Of course they have.” At the same time I was reading my narrative over and over again thinking, “Oh, God, is this just awful? Is this too corny or unoriginal? Am I going to get a bad grade? Am I a complete loser for thinking this was a story worth telling?”

Finally, I came to the realization that we as classmates, as English majors, as fellow writers, are all in the same boat. I’m sure we all have insecurities about whether or not what we’re writing is going to be good enough. Some of us may care more than others but that’s beside the point. Writing is hard because it is understood that someone else is going to read your work and judge it. And when someone says something about your writing that isn’t what you wanted to hear, it is really hard (at least for me, anyway) not to take it personally or let it get you down.

As I enter this last semester of college, I’ve sort of gotten over the fear of not doing well on my traditional writing assignments because I know what I have to do to get the grade that I want. I’ve learned not to take constructive criticism personally but rather to use it as a tool to do better in the future. But I have to admit, writing about a personal experience was a different ball game. Writing the shitty first draft was easy because there was no pressure but while I edited and rewrote the narrative it was hard to shake the feeling that if this assignment wasn’t that great it would somehow say something bad about me as a person. Obviously, I know that’s completely irrational but, again, I wondered if anyone else was thinking the same thing.

So, here’s my advice to myself and to anyone else who was a little stressed out by this assignment or by the fact that everyone can read (and judge) our blog posts or by writing in general:

  1. Don’t take it so personally. We are not our shitty first drafts. We are not our blog posts. Everything is going to be fine.
  2. Just let go and write. Don’t beat yourself up about an assignment that’s going to be read one time. ONE TIME.
  3. You are not going to fail at life if you don’t make the grade you want or if something thinks what you write about is stupid. That’s not an excuse not to try and do well, but try to take to emotions out of it and just do what you know you have to do.
  4. Take constructive criticism for what it is and move on with your life.
  5. Seriously, don’t take it personally.

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