The major takeaway of this English 181 course is that I discovered the way that my brain thinks and processes, and how I can apply that to my writing. In this letter I will take you through my writing process by guiding you through the works that led up to this process: the Sunday Sketches, the Literacy Narrative, Tracing Pages and the Halfa Kucha.
I think the most important step for any writing process is engaging with the text, thinking, and reading critically. When addressing this learning outcome, I found that the most important part of reading and thinking critically is to ‘build from the ground up’. This can be found in the Tracing Pages assignment where I analyzed patterns in the text before coming up with a claim or thesis. Normally I start the opposite way, but I think that this yields a piece of writing that has a stronger connection to evidence in the text, as shown by my annotations of the pages. In addition, I incorporate elements of my annotations into the assignment where I begin a lot of structural elements and pictures of my annotations, which ultimately lead up to my claim in the last paragraph where I say, “The authors’ choices are thus aimed at creating a relationship between themselves and their audience.” Reading closely and thinking critically will be the building block for the other works and learning outcomes.
After processing the text, the next step for me would be to represent the patterns and ideas visually in search of a thesis or a story, which addresses the visual thinking learning objective. The advantage of thinking visually to plan out a piece of writing is that visual thinking is not linear, unlike written outlines. Writing is linear in a sense that we read from left to right and then top to bottom. Each idea must come one after the other to be clear. Visually thinking allows for more freedom because things are no longer linear, but ideas and patterns can connect to one another. This idea of connecting ideas together uniquely is expressed in the Combo Photo Sunday Sketch, where I digitally spliced a picture of an ice cream cup on top of a white cylindrical lamp, giving the illusion of a complete object. This demonstrated non-linear visual thinking because there was no clear-cut way of splicing two images together. The objects that were chosen were arbitrary and there was no step-by-step procedure to create this image. I think this made this assignment challenging because there was no clear direction to head towards.
The second part of the Literacy Narrative demonstrated visual thinking because it was a comic based off the first part of the narrative. In the first part of the narrative, I discussed how I viewed “reading and writing almost like a puzzle”. In my reflection of this work how I felt uncomfortable and how this piece felt mechanical. As a result, I took a completely different direction for the comic and took some ideas from the original but the whole story was different. I felt more comfortable arranging ideas spatially and not linearly. This was especially manifested in the second page of my comic where the subject of the page are rectangular clouds which symbolized my thoughts. This whole page can be read as a collection of thoughts that are interconnected. The alternative way of reading it is to focus on each of the individual rectangular clouds and the subjects inside them. Even though the clouds were actual objects on the page, they could be seen as comic book panels. Even if the reader decides to view the clouds as panels, there is also no clear sequence that the reader has to follow. I think this page was the extreme opposite of linear thinking, and truly encompassed visual thinking and the freedom that it allows.
After visually representing ideas, the next part would be to convert the visuals into words. This can be seen clearly in the third part of the Literacy Narrative, where I turn my comic into a written text. I found that drawing out my ideas into a comic made it clear to me what the connections were because comics are an intermediate between pure free visual thinking and written language. This is because comics use both elements to convey ideas. As a result, writing the third part was easier because I had completed an intermediate step. I found that my sentences were clearer and that I could use imagery and metaphor from my comic in the written work to make it clearer:
“But each of these clouds can be morphed into my thoughts. Often times I can morph these clouds into actually physical shapes. Whenever I am reading a biology or chemistry textbook, I try to convert the words into physical moving objects in my brain. I find it easier to understand and recall knowledge when it is not text-based.”
I found that this writing process was also applicable to other rhetorical scenarios. In my Halfa-Kucha presentation reflection I wrote about the process of preparing a presentation that had only ten slides, each with a time of 20 seconds. I used the same visual thinking process, but the challenge here was trying to condense everything into a 20 second fragments. It was difficult because visual thinking is very free and boundless, but the Halfa-Kucha was the complete opposite. In addition, I had to think about the context and purpose because unlike most of the works in this website, the Halfa-Kucha is spoken not written. As a result I had to choose sentences that were simple, clear and concise because the audience cannot replay what I said. This assignment taught me how to be construct a concise argument, but to not oversimplify it.
The Halfa-Kucha relates to the rhetorical composition learning outcome because I had to work in a different context. In the third part of the literacy narrative, I used imagery and metaphor to convey how my mind processes and holds information. This was effective in a written context, but it might have been a bit confusing in a presentation where everything is spoken. In addition, the audience of my presentation was my classmates. Taking that into account, I knew that there was no need for summary.
Throughout this course, I have discovered my writing process, which I think is the most important learning outcome. I needed to read critically and ‘build from the ground up’, visually process and then convert into words. As you explore this website filled my assignments and reflections, I hope that you too can improve or maybe discover your process.
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.