Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Personal Evaluation of my Writing Habits

I DO NOT like regular pencils. You know the wooden kind that you have to sharpen and then get really dull and make your letters look extremely wide? I do love mechanical pencils, but in my writing I usually use highlighters and pens as I mark up the passage and prompt before writing. I am blessed to have a laptop, complete with Word, that makes my writing so much easier.

I didn’t realize how much of a formula I have for writing but as I write this I realize how I often do the same things. The first thing I do is read the prompt. I do this several times because it usually takes me a while to figure out what in the world it wants me to write about. If it is electronic I print it. Once I have it in a paper form, I highlight or underline the important parts of the prompt. This helps me to stay focused on what I am supposed to write about instead of going off on bunny trails.

I really love formatting, so I guess I wasn’t entirely truthful when I said the first thing I do is read the prompt. The first thing I really do is open a word document, fill in my name, date, make sure it is double-spaced, etc. and then I continue with my writing formula; once I have the important parts of the prompt, I actually type them out on my (neatly formatted) essay in the form of a statement. For example the prompt, “Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the playwright reveals the values of the characters and the nature of their society,” would be typed out on my document thus “The playwright reveals the values of the characters and the nature of their society through_______.” Then as I cover the different aspects of the prompt, I delete them so I only have to think about what I have yet to discuss.

So I am sure you have heard the joke that AP equals Advanced Procrastinators. We laugh about it, but in truth, it is one of my biggest struggles. Even now I am writing this assignment five and a half hours before it is due, and I still have a bunch of other assignments to do. It seems I can always find something else to do, or an assignment that is less stressful, but I end up stressing myself out even worse by doing it all last minute. I may or may not have cried several times this school year, and the punching bag has definitely become my new best friend…. ;) Having the writing groups in this class has helped with my procrastination, because even if I procrastinate getting my essay to the writing groups, it is still written (or at least drafted) a week before the big due date.

I generally write better alone, thus I begin writing at my desk in my room. I often begin to feel isolated from humanity and come downstairs to spread out my papers on our big school table. I inevitably end up going back upstairs because our house is full of happy little children. One thing about me is I am not very good at being still. So often I find myself writing on my bed, outside on law chairs or laying on the ground with one foot in the pool. I change my location several times when writing an essay; I think it refreshes my body and tricks my brain into being refreshed.

I end up mulling over the prompt and passage, noting things that might be useful in my essay and then I attempt to write an outline. Note the word “attempt”; I never get through with my outline before I start writing my essay. Sometimes I will write complete paragraphs and sometimes I just have little thoughts I don’t want to forget write them down to expound on later. Often I will be typing a few sentences here and there that don’t really correspond. Then I just start typing, and keep typing until it all moves together into a cohesive piece. It may not be beautiful at this point, but at least it makes sense, and the word count is there.

After this initial draft I don’t usually add a lot of new content; I just refine and edit. I print my essay and edit it by hand and then enter in the edits. I often find a lot of errors that I did not originally see when it was in electronic form. Sometimes reading it aloud helps me catch phrasing, logic, or grammar errors. Once I am already to submit, I print my essay for my mom and let her read through it, making sure I have not completely strayed off the prompt or made some gigantic grammatical error. Then I submit.

Sometimes this process takes three days sometime I do it in 3 hours. It really just depends on how much I have procrastinated. ;)

What are some of your habits? Do you procrastinate? How do you battle it? What tools do you use? PLEASE COMMENT:)