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Essay on Writing Reflection

Revising has always been part of my development process for writing. When I was taught by my high school teachers to use “linear structure” in AP Language and Literature, I felt my ideas and skills were restricted. Like Nancy Sommers states in her essay, “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers,” I too believe that the process of rewriting is not only an opportunity to edit technical errors, but also to “discover meaning altogether” (384). The original drafts of my first two essays were merely a translation of outlined ideas into vaguely tructured paragraphs with multiple grammatical errors.

I highly value revising because the more I reconsider aspects of my essays, the more clearly I understand how to communicate my purpose. After revising Essay # 1 & 2 the first few times, I more easily identified the common mistakes I have made: mixed structure, unclear transitions, raw word choices, and use of detail. Using Sommers revision strategies has allowed me to transform my drafted attempts into two final successful essays that convey colorful meanings. In the Surprise Reversal Essay, where I discussed my rough transition into college through my chool and work obligations, I noticed my writing skills were very rusty.

This was probably due to my lack of writing practice during the summer break before college. I felt it was necessary to constantly re-write my ideas for clarity and to reflect what I wanted to say (382). Even once I clearly outlined my ideas into an essay, I found it necessary to reorganize my thoughts and expand on some ideas, while spending less time elaborating on others (381). In my second body paragraph I found myself incorporating the idea of my limitation “to participate in ctivities” with the topic of finding it difficult to “incorporate time to take care of myself” in the same paragraph.

These are obviously both very different topics to bring into one enormous body paragraph, so combining them made it appear like I was listing all my problems in a diary entry. To fix that problem, I expanded on my thoughts regarding the effects exhaustion from school in another paragraph following the one about my social expectations. This helped create a strong flow of ideas and clear transitions which I continued checking for throughout the rest of my essay. Additionally, in the first essay, I found myself making countless technical errors that I must have forgotten over the summer.

For example, some of my sentences were referencing to fillers such as “it” or “that”, which made my writing unclear. In one sentence, I wrote, “I knew it must have been true,” however since I did not specify what I was referencing, my point was unclear to the reader. Thus, I elaborated to say that “I knew that college must be difficult when my upperclassmen friends left and simply disappeared”. In the edited sentence, I am able to explain that I was eferencing to the difficulty of college as “true” and also note the situation that prompted that thought.

I found these blank references happening when knew what I wanted to say, but not necessarily how to say it yet. By correcting these errors I learned to not “get stuck on individual words or phrases” and instead restate my ideas with different words (382). Additionally, I found myself writing numbers as symbols, when MLA called for a specific way of formatting numbers, time, and percentages. I learned if a number is smaller than ten, then you should spell it out, otherwise write the number as a symbol. Also, I should write out percentages as symbols and spell out times using “o’clock”.

I made changes such as “8-10 hours” to “eight to ten hours”. While editing the first essay, I noticed that not only expanding on my separate ideas, but also properly spelling out numbers in a specific format greatly added to the ease of reading of my essay. By the time I began drafting my second essay, I was able to avoid nearly all of the mistakes I have made previously. In the Summary and Response essay, where I criticized Tompkins’ use of a complex organizational method to share a simple research theme, I had issues with sentence tructure, past tense phrases, and minor grammatical errors.

One of the most difficult problems I had with this essay was conveying my words clearly so that my audience could understand. Given my unique critique of Tompkins’ essay I found it very tough to phrase my sentences nicely without including unnecessary words and phrases. For example, one of my topic sentences first read “The essay is about 20 pages long. The length drives away some readers before they begin to read the essay”. I soon noticed that the way I structured that sentence contributed to the wordiness of my paper, thus I eworded the sentence until I could shorten and combine them (381).

The final draft read: “The length of Tompkins essay-20– pages, may drive away some people before they begin to read it”, which sounds much more concise and specific. Another concern I had with my rough drafts was my tendency to use past tense instead of present tense. For instance, I discussed how Tompkins “centered” her message towards novice researchers, however the use of past tense here causes the sentence to sound awkward as her essay continues to address a young audience. Additionally, the general convention is to write in the resent.

So instead, I “clean[ed] up the language” by changing “centered” to present tense and included a verbal phrase (382). The final draft reads: “Tompkins appears to center this message toward an audience of novice researchers,” which includes a more simplified and direct reference to Tompkins. Shortening my essay and using direct, to-the-point statements was essential in my Summary and Response essay to avoid being hypocritical because I also criticized the unnecessary length of Tompkins essay. Aside from this surface error, my last concerns were mainly grammatical.

I commonly found surface errors in the drafts of my second essay. Fortunately, these mistakes took less time to fix. I constantly positioned commas before and after embedded quotes in continuous sentences, where commas are not necessary. For example, I wrote: “According to Tompkins, understanding that, “facts… are only the product of a perspective,” helps us understand how texts can persuade us. ” To fix this sentence, I removed the commas introducing and closing the direct quote because only need to put commas before and after the quote if it is a separate point from what I am saying.

I also confused the situations in which I should use affect versus effect. I originally wrote, “.. receiving the desired affect that the intended audience would gain,” when I should have used “effect” since I am referring to the effect as a noun not a verb. Lastly, another problem I found myself making was adding extra words in efforts to create structurally parallel sentences. For instance, I included “the” in front of “Europeans and Native Americans,” when it was not essential to keep the sentence in parallel structure. Removing duplicate words like this made my essay easier to read.

Grammatical errors are something that I will always have difficulty with while writing, yet through extra practice I am slowly learning to avoid these mistakes. As a student, I feel that revising is a highly valuable skill that scholars should always apply during the creation of final draft. Through my experience of revising essays in this class, I noticed that I started avoiding mistakes I have made frequently in the past. I also developed methods to follow such as how I approach revising different types of essays. I noticed that gathering other opinions on my drafts allow me to discover ifferent writing perspectives thatI may have missed.

Therefore, if another writers perceives my statement differently, I need to be more specific to clearly convey the purpose. My endurance levels for revising have also increased. I used to become annoyed revising one paper over three times. Now, it has become a regular and successful process I developed over time. These skills I have learned will help me progress academically in my other classes and professionally in my future career. Next year, I will be taking Business and Technical Writing and I learning how to correct myself will make me more comfortable ritiquing my writings in the future.

After finishing these two elieve essays this semester, I remember glimpsing back and noticing all of the colored markings, symbols, and notes for corrections I had to fix. At first it made me feel defeated knowing my drafts resemble a 4-year-olds scribbled drawing, but when I look to my final drafts now, I envision all of the colored marks and revisions I made as a symbol of my diligent work. When I look at my final drafts, all the revisions and marks are black and white, because the words I wrote, now stand out as colorful.

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