Prior to taking ENG 111 this semester, I really hated writing. It is still not my favorite thing to do and I will always try to find a way around writing a paper, but I have found ways to make it easier on myself. The reason I dislike it so much is because, while I could talk someone’s ear off and never run out of things to say, I have always struggled with putting my thoughts into words that sounded good on paper. Every time I used to begin writing a paper, I would always try to make the first draft the final draft because the thought of having to continuously revise it sounded miserable to me. It was not until I began writing “shitty first drafts” this semester that I realized I had been making myself miserable this whole time by doing that. Throughout the course of the semester I have become more comfortable with writing out how I would say all of the material out loud, onto paper, no matter how bad the grammar was or how stupid it sounded because I could always go back and revise it.
I wrote my first ever “shitty first draft” for Inquiry 1 on my mission trip to Guatemala and how I struggled with rhetoric and communication with the Guatemalan people due to my inability to speak Spanish. Considering this inquiry carried a very casual tone, it was easier for me to just write down whatever came to mind and go back and revise it later. My experience writing inquiry 1 was very smooth sailing. This is also how I felt towards the canvas post responses for all the readings that we would do. I am a very opinionated person and usually have something to say about everything, so I enjoyed writing in a casual tone and having the ability to speak my actual thoughts because it was more personal and opinion based.
From the first draft of inquiry 1 to the final draft, I made some very effective revisions. I found the in-class peer reviews of our first drafts very beneficial. After reading the piece on “shitty first drafts” as a class, I felt much more comfortable with just writing my thoughts down on paper, when prior to that, I would feel insecure and even judged. With that being said, I was able to provide my peers with a rough outline of the story I was going to tell, and then they would provide me with constructive criticism or useful feedback that would guide my steps in the revision process. My peers also asked questions that sparked ideas of what details to add into my paper, making my final draft rich in material.
Inquiry 2 was also one that I found myself having little trouble to write. I analyzed a video of New Yorkers reflecting on 9/11 and the stories of the different people and how they are remembered today. This paper was not one I had to spend much time writing because I had an idea of what I wanted to say right from the beginning. In high school, I took a three years of photography classes and also worked alongside videographers as they created a video in which they used certain elements – camera angles, transitions, framing – in order to convey a specific message. This previous knowledge came in handy when analyzing this video because I was able to try to provide an explanation as to why the filmmaker did what they did chose that specific image to put in the video at that specific time, etcetera. I found that this essay was a good transition, or stepping stone, from a very informal and casual essay such as inquiry 1, into a more analytical and research focused essay that we would be presented with in inquiry 3.
Now inquiry 3 is an essay that honestly made me want to die. I found the topic of the essay was very confusing and took me the longest time to grasp the big idea of. Since it was more research focused, I found it much more difficult to compose a “shitty first draft” because I needed research and knowledge on a topic that was foreign to me. I wrote three different versions of inquiry 3 and each time I failed to incorporate memory. With that being said, I wrote my final inquiry 3 essay in 24 hours because I finally grasped the concept the night before it was due. This was done by shifting my focus from the commemorative act, memorial, or holiday that I was going to focus on, towards the concepts of collective memory, cultural memory, and political memory. I began to realize that the prior drafts were very difficult for me because I did not have a solid foundation of the purpose of the assignment. Once I thoroughly understood the different types of memory, I was able to situate that into a particular area of interest. Even with a stronger understanding of the assignment prompt, I still found it more difficult because it is evidence based, in which the writing style was more formal. Overall, however, I was proud with how inquiry 3 ended up after many grueling weeks struggling with it.
While there was not really a “shitty first draft” regarding inquiry 4, it was definitely my favorite one to make. I am an entrepreneurship student and love being able to design and create my own things. After spending so much time on inquiry 3, I really thought I understood everything I was talking about. However, inquiry 4 helped me understand the idea of memory and how it is used and abused even more. This was because I was able to find different videos of different individuals of authority talking about the same memory in multiple different ways, which could be tied back to the agenda that they were trying to push forward and fulfill. I have always been a visual learner so to be able to move my previous argument into a different medium, allowed myself to grasp a better understanding of everything.
Finally, for inquiry 5 I created a website that was a compilation of all of the different writings I have composed over the course of the semester. Similarly to inquiry 4, I loved having the ability to design and create this website. I decided to create it with a very casual tone because that best represents me as a writer and how I prefer to write informal pieces over formal ones. Moreover, I wanted to make it fun to browse through and keep the attention of whoever came across it. With that being said, I incorporated a great deal of gifs that related to the material in some of my writings, as well as some pictures. I found myself having fun creating the website and I hope you are able to enjoy your time looking through it!
Overall, this semester was much different than I expected it to be. This class definitely did not fit the stereotype that surrounds ENG111 in regards to its level of difficulty. Many of my friends breezed through their ENG111 class, whereas I found myself struggling with it more than any other class I took this semester. Most moments, mainly when it came to composing inquiry 3, I found myself dreading the class and wishing it was easier. However, looking back on it, I know that I learned writing and analytical skills in this course that will benefit me down the road. This is something I think that students in other ENG111 classes missed out on. I can honestly say that I am a better writer today than I was on the first day of class, based on the skills that I learned and acquired throughout the semester in this course.