Dr. Sharon Burns
English Composition 1001.151
6 December 2012
It Starts With Attitude
English Composition was a course that I was reluctant to take this year. My previous experiences with English courses in college were not positive. The two reasons I struggled with English before were because of my lack of knowledge on how to structure an essay and my immaturity to accept constructive feedback as a positive part of writing. My work in this course has helped me overcome those challenges and strengthen my writing composition and my understanding of rhetoric skills. In this essay, I will explain how I have improved my writing composition over the semester and provide explains to illustrate my improvement.
Effective writing is a skill that is progressively developed over time and is a continuous process. Revisions are necessary in the writing process and constructive feedback is essential in the revision process. My first essay this semester was “Professional Judgments and Personal Feelings,” a narrative essay that demonstrated a brief experience in my life that held little significance at the time and then turned in to be something of significance. The rough draft for this essay was very rough. My thesis statement read, “One person can change your life when you least expect it, you have to listen to your heart when those people come in to your life.” I was very cliché in the wording of my thesis, I failed to connect the theme throughout the first draft, and it was too long with details. The online tutor, the peer review, and the professor rubric were initially very difficult for me to mentally digest without taking the feedback personally. The first breakthrough in my writing this semester was having enough humility to understand that the people critiquing my drafts were really here to help me on my journey to become a better writer.
After taking the feedback and learning how to apply it to my revision process, the feedback from my peers and the online tutors became essential for me to feel like I was effectively progressing from my rough draft work to my final draft paper. During the revision process, the narrative essay rough draft changed significantly, including the title, thesis, audience and conclusion. In the rough draft, I struggled to identify an audience. Through my revisions, I realized my audience was young professionals who would need to balance personal decisions with professional decisions at different stages in their careers. My title changed from the cliché, “Follow Your Heart” to “Professional Judgments and Personal Feelings.” The title change informed the reader what the essay was going to be about. My introduction and conclusion were more structured and relevant to the essay content. The constructive feedback directed me to make many smart revisions to make my writing more effective.
Accepting constructive feedback proved to be a major accomplishment in my writing process. The next challenge for me was structuring my essay and the process I used to get a rough draft completed. In the first essay, there was not a process. I thought about the topic for a few days and allowed myself to write whatever came to mind. The order I wrote my work was backwards; I wrote my conclusion, then my introduction, and lastly I reviewed it for any grammatical or spelling issues. It was not a good process and it took a lot more work in the revision process. On the second and third essays, I was much more organized in how I structured my essays. I created my thesis first and created the main points I wanted to illustrate and organized an outline. Writing the rough drafts for those essays was much easier. The essays still required revisions based off of the peer reviews, however there were fewer revisions needed in the structure of the essay.
The peak of my work this semester was in essay three, the exploratory essay. My initial rough draft was much more organized and I used sources to build my case in the essay. Organization was key in my third essay and I knew what I wanted to accomplish with my writing. While I feel like the third essay was the strongest piece of work initially, I did not feel comfortable making revisions. The feedback I received from my peers and online tutors included the essay was “well written” with just a few grammatical concerns and a couple areas that needed further clarification. Based on the feedback, I choose not to revise my writing significantly and that was not a smart decision in my writing.
After writing the exploratory essay and using sources to cite and strengthen my argument, I began working on the research paper. The work I had completed with the research steps and my progress in writing my essays leading up to this point had me confident in my writing skills. I organized the research paper like I had with the other essays. My success was not the same with the research paper. My preparation produced about six pages of writing and then I had to go back to the drawing board to add additional information in to the research paper. A lot of my initial sources did not provide me the information I needed to strengthen my paper and I had to find additional sources late in the writing process. I feel like the final version on my research paper I submitted was a regression in my writing progress this semester.
In this English Composition course, I learned a lot about my overall writing skills. My strengths include using sources well to strengthen my work and my use of rhetoric choices progressively improved during each essay. One of my major weaknesses is the meaning of my writing does not always come out clear to the reader. Through peer reviews and the online tutor feedback, there were a few times that sentences did not make sense and needed revised for clarity. Another weakness is the transition between paragraphs can be rough, or non-existent, and it makes it more difficult for the reader to follow my thoughts. It is because I learned these things about my writing in this course that I will be able to effectively communicate better in my professional career. I will also use these skills and the knowledge of my opportunities to further develop my writing skills in my professional and educational career.