Process Portfolio

Here we are: giving away the keys to the kingdom, exposing the person behind the curtain, or whatever other analogy you’d like to use. Regardless of analogy, this section is all about uncovering the steps that went into developing a myriad of drafts that eventually turned into four somewhat polished essays.

Before entering this class I followed a writing process typical of any other stressed out, too busy, college student. My process consisted of holing up in the library, iced coffee in hand, and attempting to put down something just ~inspirational~ enough to receive an A all in one night.

While some things haven’t changed in my process (looking at you, iced coffee), a lot of things have.

I realized shortly after beginning a draft for my first essay of ENGL 305 that this process was not going to cut it if I wanted to develop thoughtful and meaningful work. I had to stumble over a few mental roadblocks to get to this realization including, but not limited to:

  • My “perfectionist” tendencies

  • A belief that all good papers MUST follow an outline from the very start

  • An unwillingness to change my thesis once I had decided upon it

  • An idea that I had to start with a thesis rather than a problem or idea

  • And many more!

You get the idea. I had many years of writing down fluff, tweaking my word choice, and receiving and A to go through before I could find the real and meaningful process that would help me develop as a writer.

The process that I’ve developed over the semester is by no means perfect, but then again what is? I will say that this process is a big improvement and has helped me shift my mindset towards writing to a more positive light. My new process goes a little something like this:

  • Brainstorm – comb through the text as well as the supporting articles we’ve read and dissected in class and jot down some things I find interesting

  • Collect and Connect – from those ideas, see if there are any major questions or themes that I have about the text and the theory we are working with. If there are, collect them together.

  • Choose your own adventure – At this point I usually choose to organize my brainstorming and thought collection into an outline, or I choose to begin writing and see where it takes me.

    • Outline – take my collected thoughts and hash them out a bit more. Find specific examples from the text to analyze and specific examples from the supporting texts to add ethos and support to my claim

    • Draft – in the words of Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and James Madison, I take this step to “follow the money and see where it goes” (except in this case the “money” is the ideas I’ve been brainstorming). I typically use this step to hash out ideas through prose.

  • Peer Review – One of the most beneficial parts of this class to me has been the opportunity to have our drafts peer reviewed. Having a source of people who understand the topics I’m covering in depth and what good writing looks like has been invaluable to my process. In this step I enjoy talking through ideas and gaining new ideas to add to my own thoughts.

  • Revise – One of many, this first revision is based off of peer review comments. After this revision, I submit the draft for more feedback, this time from my professor.

  • Revise 2.0 – If chosen as an idea I want to continue to pursue towards the presentation portfolio, I then go back and revise the draft again. This time I look at the draft mostly as a cohesive whole and attempt to find details that fit that picture or stick out like a sore thumb. With this I attempt to polish and present my essays.

While this process seems well structured, in general it is a very fluid process. Some essays I followed all of these steps to a T, but in other essays I skipped around and even moved backwards through the steps. To find out more about how each piece of my portfolio came to be, feel free to click on the links below. The links are listed in chronological order of the semester, and each one explains how that particular essay came to life.

Close Reading

Historical Contextualization 

Critical Conversation

Psychoanalytic Critique 

Social Critique

Gender Critique