Scholarly writing is an essential communication tool for students, through which ideas and knowledge acquired can be conveyed. At the beginning of the course, I lacked knowledge and did not hint at what college writing entailed. It did not help that I had a strong aversion to writing. This stemmed from previous experiences with writing that demanded lots of creativity, an excellent language base, and subjective grading. College writing is different from high school writing; this novelty made me nervous at the beginning of the course. However, my experience during Writing 105 class has dramatically changed my attitude towards writing; I can confidently affirm that I love writing. College writing is structured and systematic: it requires a writer to follow a specific format. Grading is objective, based on the quality of the work, completing the task, and adhering to specified guidelines. The quality of one’s grade is directly proportional to the effort put into the task. This grading criterion guarantees high-quality grades.
One of the aspects of writing I had to revise was information gathering. I lacked a solid understanding of the topics in question, and as a result, my essays missed crucial details. In subsequent writing pieces, I had to be more detailed and visual. Towards this end, I discovered how to analyze information from credible sources such as books, scholarly journals, and conference papers. To access these sources of information, I learned to use tools available in the library and online search engines such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Virtual LRC, and Microsoft academic search. I was informed on how to tap into secondary sources such as videos, audio clips, and images to supplement. With these tools in my arsenal, I have become more detailed and specific in my writing.
My writing skills have been tested and become well and effectively refined. Structuring my essays was one of the areas. I performed dismally. In my argumentative essay, I had all the relevant ideas in mind but failed to organize them properly to make a strong argument. As a result, my paper lost meaning and had many errors The structure of an academic paper depends on the type of assignment. I have mastered the three-part structure, including an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. I have learned to organize ideas into paragraphs and support them with credible sources. Including section headings improve the readability; this is essential in drawing readers to the conveyed thoughts (Samuels). Video tutorials served to deepen my understanding of essay structuring further. With this understanding, I will improve the quality of my papers by following the appropriate structure.
Outlining essays is another significant revision I had to make. I was ignorant of the significance of providing an outline of my work. I have appreciated its importance in giving the reader a map of the essay in a logical manner. Creating an outline often requires a writer to think through the ideas they intend to communicate critically. This usually means having multiple drafts and refining the essay with each subsequent draft. This stage in writing helps in arranging ideas chronologically and gauging if they are solid ideas that can be supported with evidence. It is easy for a writer to stray in an ocean of ideas; an outline is a compass that ensures they stay objective. An outline can be detailed or straightforward; of importance is briefly highlighting each paragraph’s idea. It must capture the essence of the paper without delving into the details.
At the beginning of the semester, I faced difficulty referencing my sources correctly according to the different styles. This resulted in my work being flagged for errors in the formatting. To overcome this challenge, I learned how to use reference manager software. The software help collects, organize and store sources as per the specified reference style. Additionally, I obtained templates for the different referencing styles to guide my writing pieces’ formatting. To fully master the referencing styles, I need to practice them often by writing more articles. By writing more in this class, I have seen my mastery of grammar improve significantly. I have learned to write paragraphs, include a topic sentence, an explanation, and evidence, and conclude by linking them to the main idea.
A high plagiarism index was a challenge I faced at the beginning. To overcome this and improve the quality of my writing, I took online tutorials on how to cite sources appropriately. Additionally, I ensured I ran my work through plagiarism-checking tools to ensure plagiarism was at a minimum. Keeping to the specified word count was a challenge as I began. I often surpassed the word limit. To avoid excess count, I learned to practice using one word instead of phrases where possible, continually monitoring word count on each paragraph, and crossing out unnecessary phrases. I practiced structuring paragraphs to count a specific limit of words to ensure equal distribution and help plan the flow of ideas even before starting the actual writing.
Mental block was another challenge I encountered at the beginning of the course. I often faced a dilemma on where to start when writing a paper. As a result, I often procrastinated and wasted precious time. To overcome this, I engaged the help of an experienced colleague to help me develop an outline. With time, I learned how to develop a proper outline which resolved the mental block problem. I have had difficulty developing sound thesis statements; this has been highlighted in papers submitted during this course. I have made efforts to better this by engaging colleagues and online tutorials. Despite my best efforts, it is still a major struggle. It is an aspect that I hope to improve on through practice.
I am proud of my progress; I have experienced immense growth. To begin with, my attitude towards writing has changed, from a negative to a positive one. I can confidently accept a writing task and see it through to completion. My writing speed has improved significantly over time and I can complete tasks before the deadline. The ease I have taken to writing is a significant esteem and confidence boost. If I successfully learned writing, a complex skill, I can learn any other skill in life.
Writing has sharpened my problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills. These will be vital in other college education areas requiring me to break down a problem, digest information, and make conclusions. The writing skill will be crucial both in college and in my career, where writing evidence-based academic papers is inescapable. In not writing-intensive courses, analytical skills will help understand the course content. Scholarly writing is an essential skill for students and scholars continually honed.
Samuels, Peter. Academic Writing. 2019.