Writing has always been a source of great anxiety for me. Throughout high school I struggled to get words on the page when I wrote, and I began to associate writing with mental distress. However, I am now proud to say that much of my anxiety toward writing has eroded away with this class. I realized that one of my main difficulties with writing arose from my style of thinking. I am a very logical and linear thinker, so I used to write like I would solve a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece, every sentence, has exactly one niche in accordance with an outline or goal. It should fit perfectly with the pieces next to it, and there is certain order you can solve it in. This strategy, of course, is at odds with the well-established approach to writing in which the writer freely pours all their ideas onto the page, intending to revise them into a cohesive work later on. I was forcing myself to write a perfect piece from the start. Thus the first draft always took many hours, and no matter how hard I tried it would require much revision afterward. I am grateful for this class because just by practice it has forced me to abandon this traumatic method of writing, something that I was never able to do in high school.
However, I was faced with a second issue. When free writing, instead of running down the rails spewing ideas onto the page, my train of thought zigzagged in and out of ideas, more like how a wasp buzzes back and forth as it flies. On each detour I come back with good ideas, catchy phrases, or useful material, but I thought too quickly to remember all of them. When this would happen in my high school writing, I would usually just ignore these ideas or just delete the ones that didn’t fit on the page as I wrote. To solve this, I developed my most important writing strategy: the “idea junkyard.” Whenever my brain goes on a detour as I write, I quickly summarize it in another document and move on. If I ever remove a section of text from what I am composing, I put the scrap in that other document as well. Very often when revising a paper I will refurbish broken ideas from the junkyard. It’s sort of a way of brainstorming on the go. This has made my writing process more efficient, and it usually leads to a better end product.
The pieces I have included here I firmly believe are some of the best works I have ever written. They are clear, concise, well edited, and thoughtfully written. I chose the digital literacy narrative over the problem essay because I remember while writing the problem essay I realized that I didn’t have as much standing as I thought. I was writing that waitlisting system at this university was broken when I had in fact benefitted from the current arrangement. After I realized that, it was difficult to support my thesis and the writing didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. The digital literacy narrative on the other hand, addresses a problem that I genuinely believe in, and because I was passionate about what I wrote, I made better arguments, I gave better examples, and most importantly, I put in more effort. It is very difficult to write about something you don’t like or don’t believe in.
When designing my portfolio, I took a mostly utilitarian approach with a personal touch. I wanted a theme that would bring attention to the writing, not the decoration, so I settled on basic black and white pattern. After all, this portfolio is about writing, not florid backgrounds and headings. Then I had the idea to add something personal, something that represents what I have learned about writing in this class. The Calvin and Hobbes cartoon was the perfect fit. Not only am I a fan of the comic strip, but Hobbes’ comment to Calvin, that he should just ignore the restrictions and focus on the fun of creating, summarizes what I am now able to do with writing: enjoy it. Back when writing meant painful writers block and self-censorship, enjoying writing was outright impossible. Now that I have the skills to write more freely, I no longer see writing like Calvin does in this cartoon.