Last week’s lecture series regarding the process of prewriting was certainly helpful and welcomed, but it also created new questions. Few can debate the overall value pre-writing incurs on a finish product, but does this process work universally for all individuals? Are specific methods (outlines, free writing, and making sticky notes) more suitable for certain people? Do all papers need pre-writing? Should I have performed pre-writing for this blog? (Okay that last one was not serious)
I have never had an especially structured process for formulating arguments. My general process has generally consisted of:
1) List key words, points, and quotes I want to include in the paper
2) Write the paper and delete from my list of key words, points, and quotes as I use them
I tend to spend a large amount of my time fancying the revision phase. This pre-writing process instead places the majority of emphasis in the beginning so fewer revisions will be needed upon completion of the paper. Does this progression produce a better overall paper? Through extensive pre-writing, writing the paper should be easy, but would of course require more extensive time commitments to properly pre-write. Conversely, less time can be spent generating outlines, but through the revision phase. While the pre-writing assignment was excellent practice in designing the foundations for an outstanding paper, it did little to alleviate my questions. An interesting assignment may have been to perform pre-writing for an essay we wrote previously, and then see if the pre-writing helped us brainstorm fresh ideas that would have strengthened the piece.
Near the end of the lecture, Marty highlighted the importance of encouraging and focusing on the criticisms and revisions of others rather than relying on themselves. I completely agree with the value of this statement, but I believe it to be only applicable given an educated set of eyes. Quite honestly, I can remember few times through my academic career where someone else has truly strengthened my paper. Even through our team submission to the CHI competition last year, we received poor feedback. The comments our team received were mostly illogical and at times even, irrelevant. Our primary problem was our design was built for a target audience that the audience of our paper (CHI) was unfamiliar with, thus making it difficult for CHI to judge our design. As I ponder other issues with revision feedback, I believe much of the dilemma is the emphasis and importance our society and English teachers through middle school and high school placed on grammar. I have found individuals tend to focus on finding missing commas rather than ensuring the second paragraph strongly proves the assertion made in a thesis paragraph. Jeff’s notion of the lack of importance of grammar is an important one, and one I wish had been highlighted in classes years ago.