This section of the portfolio is dedicated to showing my writing process as I worked through the six essays contained within it. My process before beginning this class was very simple. I would begin with my thesis or argument, locate and quote the evidence that supported it, then strung that together in a way that was coherent to me. I’m personally not a huge fan of prewriting, simply because I can usually organize my basic ideas within my head before and as I write. Sometimes I would have my argument before the evidence, such as if it came from a class discussion, while other times the evidence or plot would help me form how I viewed or interpreted something. I would then crank out the paper or essay in a night and end my process there. My procrastination would fuel my fingers as I raced a clock to put my ideas on a page. As a result, I typically could not or would not do any kind of peer review or have anyone else look at my work before turning it in. However, this class has greatly changed how I go about my process.
The first big change to my process came about in how I create my thesis and argument. This class pushed me towards the idea of starting with a question before an argument or thesis. One example of this is when I was brainstorming for my historical contextualization essay. I wanted to know why marriage was so important in the lives of both of the women mentioned or present within The Tempest. I looked at the historical sources available and seemed to find a possible answer. From there I gathered evidence until I came to my thesis. This change is very important in my eyes because I feel that it takes away the possibility of me molding the evidence to my argument instead of the other way around.
The next big change involves peer review, or having my classmates take a look at my work. We were required to have a peer or two look at a draft of our work prior to turning in a final copy for each essay. This was rarely present in previous classes of mine, and when it was, it was never to this extent where every essay required it. But I feel like this helped me very much in my process. Not only did it mean I had someone analyzing my argument, but it meant I had an additional resource to bounce ideas or questions off of. Having someone tell me that an argument made sense that I was concerned about or that something I thought was clear wasn’t really helped me better craft my essays.
The final big change to my process was that we were forced to revise several of the drafts which we turned in. This was a brand new concept to me, as typically it was only ever present in previous classes if you did not do well on a paper and wanted the points, a situation I simply didn’t find myself in ever. But this change caused me to reevaluate my process because it showed me that revising and improving is never over. Every paper has room for improvement, and this pushed me further to improve my process, since I couldn’t simply say “Well I’ll just have to do better on the next paper.”
As a result of these changes, my process for writing these essays looks more like this:
- Ask a question regarding the topic and get ideas and evidence together regarding it
- Organize the previous stuff into a draft or outline, creating a thesis at the end of this step
- Present this draft or outline for peer review
- Edit based on this review
- Turn edited copy into professor
- Receive Feedback
- Decide whether to pursue further
- If so, go through feedback and edit based on it
These last two steps are also new parts of my process for this class. Because we only revised four essays for the presentation portfolio, I could choose to leave two essays as they were. This helped teach me the idea that sometimes your writing or idea just doesn’t work out, and that can be okay. The two I decided not to pursue either did not interest me to pursue further or I felt that working on the other essays instead would be a more fulfilling use of my time and effort. I specifically chose the last three essays of this class because I felt that enhancing my writing and understanding of their topics was a better use of my time than working on how to integrate historical sources or critical conversation in a wide regard.
However, I still went through the process with each, regardless of if I further pursued it, and that will be reflective in each of the pages linked below. Each demonstrates this process on display for each topic. I hope you enjoy!