Oh high school. High school was a whirlwind of assignments, going to work, and making time for friends and family. University on the other hand, has been a hurricane of even more assignments, library days, late nights, and “group studying”. The writing has demanded more from me as a creative thinker and as a student. I have to actually put a little piece of me into my writing, and make what I say a personal testimony, rather than a regurgitation of memorized facts. I’m seeing response essays less and less, and reflective writing pieces and journals and other sorts of personalized writing much more often. It’s nice to actually write things that I can add my own focus and ideas to. I’ve found that my voice is becoming a tool I can use for rhetoric, rather than something I have to stifle for formality’s sake.
This has been my writing experience so far. From personal journals, to critical responses, to blog posts, to response questions and debate papers. There’s a lot more opportunity for adding a personal touch to what I say. Actually, the only response essays I’ve had to write have been in sociology, and they’re still essays that focus on people and the way we interact with one another. It’s a refreshing change from the less reflective work we did in high school. We were given assignments where we had to write about our lives, but they were often for participation marks. Until this year, I hadn’t had much experience with learning how to write about my opinions and experiences while keeping a well thought out and intelligent sounding thought process.
Now, while this change has been fantastic, I’m not saying that university writing hasn’t had its fair share of challenges. Going from grade 12 english, where I had to write one in-exam essay, to a place where two essays can be thrown in an hour long midterm, was quite the change. Being able to say everything I need to say in that time limit is almost impossible, especially since I write slower than (or at the same rate as) a sleep deprived student. I’m capable of decent writing, but time and pressure make everything I say less eloquent. I specialize in writing assignments where I can take as long as I want to to over-analyze, and over-interpret every little detail.
This kind of slow, tedious, writing style will be perfect for the formal argument essay. I find that being able to construct an argument piece by piece is much easier than splaying a mess of words all over the paper for the sake of meeting a word count or time limit. I’ve always preferred letting what I write sit around for a while, so I can come back to it after it’s all set in and worked out its differences. When you step away from your writing, you come back with a new perspective, which can help you pick apart the “genius” lines from the “yikes! I actually thought that sounded intelligent” lines. That’s my favorite part of the writing process. It’s putting your nose to the grindstone and just writing and rewriting until you’ve made something worth a read.
So, although there have been many adjustments, and these past two months have been a total rollercoaster, I’d say my academic writing experience has been pretty good so far. I may even be enjoying writing, much to my own surprise! Nothing’s coming easy, and I’m still wrestling with time management, but we’re getting there. If I just focus on what’s ahead, I’ll be fine. After all -I’m here to learn- and that doesn’t come without a few bumps along the road.