Writing is a complex process that cannot be mastered at one go. Even if a person is full of ideas and fresh thoughts, writing them down in a coherent manner can turn out a grueling task. Therefore, learning how to write is a process stretched in time, and it would be naive to think that one can learn it really fast. Of course, much depends on a person’s abilities. Someone can master a certain level faster than another person but, on the whole, one needs to move from simple matters to more difficult things, and steps can hardly be skipped. At the same time, people may have a certain assurance of their skills and be under an impression that they can do everything with ease. While self-confidence is a necessary ingredient of a successful person, sometimes it can lead to carelessness. So every student who wants to learn how to do college-level writing should stick diligently to the guideline in order to acquire the skills and habits necessary for a good writer. College writing courses are a great help in mastering one’s writing abilities and reinforcing habits necessary for high-quality writing.
In the section“Habits of Mind” from Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing, students are given a list of qualities that are supposed to help them foster their writing abilities and practice better writing. Apart from usual qualities necessary for writing people such as curiosity to explore the world around, openness to share one’s ideas, and creativity to produce something new, the Framework reminds about other important abilities such as persistence, responsibility, flexibility, and metacognition. While all of us who took part in Writing 399 class knew about these qualities and probably had some of them, they needed reinforcement and taking them to the next level.
A crucial part of this semester’s impact was Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, a book that explained in great detail how much people are creatures of habits, and how they can easily manipulate their existing habits and change them for new ones to make themselves better. Due to my self-assurance, I am often under an impression that I just need to get started to produce a great paper and it will not take much time. I believed that following a pattern in my head would bring me the best results. While it is partially true, I often forget that the profound work often takes much more time than writing itself. Therefore, for me persistence was the ability that was the hardest to cultivate this semester and that I spent most time struggling with. I usually pore over books and try to study a topic in depth and my speed is faster than the class’s because there are other subjects in the curriculum, and we cannot pass Writing 399 in two weeks and move on. Therefore, after having read the book it often seems to me that I took everything possible from it, and nothing is left to discuss; so I am somewhat reluctant to join the discussions or mull the subject matter over and over again. But my great revelation is that while I have many ideas in my head, and I know the topic rather well, when it comes to actually writing about it, I can stare at an empty page and do not know where to start. It takes time and practice to learn how to arrange what I want to say and develop my arguments coherently. Supplementary texts and discussions help me in that. According to the Framework, persistence is the ability to consistently take advantage of in-class (peer and instructor responses) and out-of-class (writing or learning center support) opportunities to improve and refine their work. Throughout the semester, I took pains to “follow through, over time, to complete tasks” and return to the topics that seemed rather well studied to me. Each time I came back to the topic that I believed could give me nothing new, I found some aspects and angles that were still unknown to me.
Another ability that is important for any college student is responsibility. The Framework says that responsibility is fostered when writers realize, learning is shared among the writer and others – students, instructors, and the institutions. I always remember that it is me, first of all, who is responsible for my education, and if I do not make an effort, no one will do it for me. No matter how good my institution is and how talented my teachers are, without my commitment no knowledge will stay in my head. However, throughout the course I began to realize that my active participation helps not only me but my classmates as well. Hearing other people talk about a subject reinforces our understanding of it. This helps to learn other viewpoints and makes us ready to argue and defend our positions. Besides, the ability to take responsibility for my academic work makes me aware that the work should be of highest quality as it has my name on it, and should follow all the requirements as to giving credit to those whose work and ideas were used.
What gave me a great pleasure about this writing course was how meticulously our assignments were prepared. I liked that we were given all the materials necessary to do the work including articles, sample papers, and guidelines. It reassured me to know that the professor cared about our success and provided all the necessary tools for us to succeed, and we only needed to put in our perseverance, desire, and effort. The structure of the course allowed me to develop my flexibility better. I had to keep in mind the conventions such as citation styles and mechanics of good writing style, and approach writing assignments in multiple ways, depending on the task and purpose and audience.
To those who are going to take this class next semester, I would like to advise to attend all the lectures and workshops and actively participate in all the activities. This way, the habit of making profound work will be forming gradually and solidly, and they will come to their desks prepared and well informed to write their assignments. Once you know a habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it. Each student knows his weaknesses in writing, and this course is a great opportunity to grapple with them.

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