One of the most significant concepts that I have learned in my English class throughout the whole of this term is the writing process, especially understanding the paragraph, which is a crucial component for ensuring the provision of a refined piece of writing. William J. Kelly, the author of Simple, Clear, and Correct Paragraphs, argues that a paragraph is a series of sentences that a writer uses to express an idea or a topic to a reader. Kelly further contends that a paragraph is a result of working through the stages of the writing process. The steps in the writing process include prewriting, composing, and revising (1). From the course about the writing process, I learned that before one begins writing an idea, it is essential to have a clear explanation of the concept and plenty of writing practice so that you can put the thought in writing without making mistakes. To be able to write an error-free paper that is coherent and objective, I also learned that it is critical to adhere to the various writing elements such as grammar, and practice tirelessly to ensure a flawless paper.
From the course, I learned the various stages of writing such as prewriting, revising, and composing. Kelly defines prewriting as the first stage of the writing process where a writer generates and develops ideas. The author further states that prewriting consists of other techniques such as freewriting, brainstorming, clustering, and branching, which all help the writer to develop and organize ideas in a coherent manner. I adapted well with the free writing technique, which involves writing whatever comes to mind without fear of whether it makes sense or not. I enjoyed utilizing the free writing technique because it enabled me first to write what I am thinking without fear of criticism. Anne Lamott, the author of Shitty First Drafts, calls the first draft as the childs draft because it is where a writer pours all ideas out knowing that no one will see and that you will have the time to polish the paper later (1). Applying free writing as one of the basics of the writing process made me learn of the importance of highlighting my ideas first in a draft then coming back later on the draft and polishing it according to the desired outcome. I learned that the technique helped me to be flexible and free in my writing, which enabled me to block instances of mental block, a problem that affects a significant number of writers.
The course about the writing process further enabled me to learn about the second stage of writing, which is composing. The composing stage requires a writer to focus on the ideas written during the prewriting stage and then transform the best ideas into a coherent message (Kelly, 24). During the composition stage, a writer is expected to write correct sentences that are complete formulate a topic sentence, provide supporting sentences that illustrate the topic sentence, and finally develop a concluding sentence. The topic sentence is the primary sentence in a paragraph that enables the reader to understand the information that will be discussed in the rest of the paragraphs. In this course, I learned that developing a topic sentence was the most challenging part of the whole writing process especially if the writer did not manage to obtain relevant ideas during the prewriting stage. Lamott narrates of her experiences writing food reviews for California magazine. She states that the articles took her two days to write and the steps would include visiting a restaurant several times with a few friends to provide their opinion regarding a particular food. The next day, Lamott would sit on her desk and try to write the review only ending up with terrible sentences. Lamott would write a lead paragraph that was a whole page even though the entire article was three pages (1). A series of writings and rewritings would be involved for Lamott to be able to produce a good lead that will be appealing to the audience. The experiences of Lamott and the hectic and challenging times I went through while trying to grasp the composing stage, enabled me to concur with Lamott. She stated that, even those writers whose prose ends up being natural and fluid, the right words and the right sentences do not come pouring out like ticker tape most of the time (1).
I also obtained a significant lesson from the revising stage. Kelly argues that writing an excellent paragraph requires time and patience. Moreover, a writer is required to reconsider and rework the first draft through a process called revision (35). The revision stage involves reassessing the ideas in the first draft and determining the ideas that require more work, generating and polishing new material to address specific problem areas, and proofreading the document to eliminate errors. The revision stages offered me the opportunity to take my writing seriously and organize as well as coherently correct my ideas to produce an improved version of the final draft. Revising is a crucial step; even Lamott would go through the first draft with a colored pen and take out unnecessary ideas and find new leads that would help in writing the second draft (2).
In the course, I also learned the importance of narration in the writing process. A writer is supposed to have a strategy through which to present a series of events. For this case, narration brings the reader into the experience (Kelly 56). In narration, I learned about the importance of utilizing transitions in paragraphs to ensure a flow of ideas. Before learning about narration, I would organize my paragraphs without using transitional words, and my writing would be boring. Learning about narration has helped me to polish my paragraphs and make them engaging as possible to ensure the readers understand the emotions and ideas communicated in every single paragraph. Equally important, I learned about description, which is the process of thinking words as a camera lens through which a reader views the situations or experiences being presented (Kelly 64). The aspect of description broadened my perception of how to expound on my paragraphs to bring light and enthusiasm to my ideas. The concept was helpful in the creation of content that would engage readers, and enable them to understand the message that is being communicated. Apart from narration and description, the course provided me with skills of integrating examples in my writing. According to Kelly, plenty of illustration is the one way that a writer brings ideas across to the reader (71). I learned that each paragraph discussing a particular phenomenon required illustration to create essence and understanding. The provision of illustrations in a paragraph is of crucial importance because examples help in bringing logic in the idea.
In conclusion, the English course, especially the writing process has been of crucial importance throughout the semester. The course has provided me with many skills that I did not possess before the class. I have improved my writing from scratch and transformed to polishing and formulating coherent paragraphs and ideas that are error free and engaging to the readers. Moreover, the course enlightened me on some of the challenges that writers face and how to avoid them.
Kelly, William J. Simple, Clear, and Correct Paragraphs. Pearson Education, Inc. 2010.
Lamott, Anne. Shitty First Drafts. Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers. Ed. By Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. 9th Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005: 93-96.
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