October 25, 11
From the beginning of our writing careers, we have been preached to about the dos’s and don’ts’s of writing. In grammar school, we were taught not to use the word ‘I’ and to always write in the third person. Breaking such rules would have been considered taboo. Now as we embark on a new journey in our lives, college, such rules do not always apply as strictly. While the rules reminisce in our minds from grade school, we do not always have to adhere to them. Though I do not believe there is a “correct” way of writing, I do believe there are both good and bad ways to go about it.
There are many essays throughout the text of Writing About Writing, which discuss writing in a particular way. In chapter two, Maria P. Rey writes a letter to her high school criticizing their teaching strategies. The rules her previous professors had restricted her with often times caused writers block. Mike Rose, a student at the University of California, found that “ students who experienced blocking were all operating either with writing rules or… strategies that impeded rather than enhanced the composing process” (272). Rose’s research supports the dilemma of Maria’s writers block. Students do not intentionally produce poor papers. Rather it is the stress they experience along with the strict rules, which determine whether or not the work they have produced is acceptable. Maria’s essay emphasizes my beliefs that there should not be a predetermined way to judge the quality of a paper.
Kelsey Diaz also shares many of the same views about high school as Maria in her essay “Seven Ways High School Prepares You for Failure.” The author outlines the seven ways she believes high school has undermined our writing education – five paragraph essay, writing objectively, cite a resource, turning in rough drafts and final drafts, resources are the truth, and the one book and three internet article rule. While many of these rules are unnecessary, a few could be considered beneficial. I believe rough drafts, final drafts, and revising play a substantial role in creating a well-written essay. “As a rule: the more drafts, the better the paper” (709).
Have you not felt restricted by the same pre-college writing rules? While these rules are not always detrimental to the overall quality of the paper, they can negatively affect the method of writing. I am not saying all the rules taught to us in middle school and high school should be disregarded. Many of the rules are necessary in writing a cohesive paper such as grammar and punctuation, MLA formatting, and sentence structure. I am simply trying to convey that some rules are mundane. I remember in high school every major paper had to follow the five- paragraph format (introduction, three body paragraphs, conclusion). Often times I would ramble or just fill the space in order to meet the requirements. Such rules like these do not produce “good” writing but rather forced writing. Good writing is not determined by quantity but rather quality.
Considering my own experiences with good and bad writing is difficult. I say this because I am not an avid reader. Many of the works I have read have either been written by my peers in high school or in college, where I have encountered both sides of the spectrum. Some of the best writing I have read has been in my WRD 103 class. This does not surprise me since our writing abilities are held to new higher standards in college. On the other hand, I have read very poor works in college. The stress of meeting the certain requirements of an assignment hinders students from thoroughly explaining the purpose of the paper. This contradicts my previous statement since (some) students are not upholding the ante in their higher education.
Writing should be based upon what the author is trying to convey, rather than if the content follows the set academic standards. Some of the most profound works of art in our society are the best because they do not “paint in the lines.” This can also be applied to writing. Some of the best writing doesn’t follow the set standards and still manages to be a written work of art. I think that if we didn’t focus on the academic aspect, but more on the writing itself, it would improve everyone’s writing, whether they are a novice writer or a well-seasoned writer. One’s opinion of good writing varies from person to person. We can recognize good writing just by reading it. Since everyone’s “taste” is different it is hard to label what is good and what is not. On a personal level, good writing to me does not follow the structure we have been taught in high school. An essay must relate to its’ target audience and convey the message clearly and directly. A well-written paper evokes interest in the readers and makes them crave more. It has the ability to arouse emotion. A good paper goes far beyond the grammatical and structural aspects of an essay.