Writing is everywhere. It is a form of communication that has allowed our society to continue a conversation across generations on a variety of topics. Often times this idea is easy to comprehend when we read the great authors such as Freud, Chesterton, and Augustine or when we continue to build on research conducted by scientists such as Newton, Einstein, and Hawing. This idea of a continual conversation to continue to learn is accurately portrayed in academia. Large textbooks and research papers are records of intellectual property that have been used to continue conversations across generations. Writing, however, also manifests itself in a lot of other forms. Dissertations to television advertisements are all considered forms of writing. It is not only the great thinkers that have written in a formal setting that write or even continue conversations about the great questions of our world. Writing at its core is a physically recorded piece of information. Anything from a research paper, to notes, to a caption on Instagram can be considered writing.
The way we write has evolved over time and is always evolving based on the setting in which we are in. For example, scientific writing prefers very detailed and seemingly unbiased information, business writing prefers short and concise sentences that get right to the point, and poetry favors flowery language and a variety of sentence structures. Within academia, there is a great diversity in how we write. What determines the way we write is the context in which we are placed. A calculus class, for example, may require writing in the form of concise notes while a history class may require more detailed essays. Nevertheless, both classes require writing in one form or another. This diversity in writing extends even farther than academia. Communication such as texting and social media are all forms of writing. They serve different purposes and are approached in a different way.
Learning about the different types of writing that exist I started to become more cognizant of the writing that surrounded my everyday life. I started to become more away of the purposes of the writing that I saw other people doing and the writing that I created on a daily basis. I wanted to begin to understand the writing that I created and the rhetoric behind it. I attempted this analysis by first looking at questions such as where it was written, how I felt while writing it, what the purpose of it ultimately was, and the sort of grammatical rules, if any, that I had to follow. These blog entries are a semester-long record of the type of writings that I have encountered in my fall semester at Georgetown University. Throughout my daily life I would take notes of any sort of communication that I found interesting and later that night I would analyze the rhetoric behind it. In these blog posts I analyze a myriad of ideas such as purpose, intended audience, effectiveness, and frequency with the ultimate goal of understanding how rhetoric was manifested within each type of writing.
Reflecting on this semester-long venture to become more cognizant of the writing around me I have learned to write in more efficient ways. By understanding the ultimate purpose of my writing and the setting in which I am writing, I have been able to more effectively communicate my ideas.
At the start of this course we were tasked to list all of the types of writing that we could think of. After hearing this task I was immediately thrown off. To me there was one, maybe two, types of writing. Formal writing and informal writing. Despite my lack of knowledge, I learned that writing incorporated any type of communication imaginable. From a caption on a social media post, to graffiti downtown, to notes written on your phone, to a full blown dissertation, all of these are types of writing with their own positives and negatives. Even within the realm of formal writing there are a variety of different types. Being in the business school I realized quickly how different writing in the business world was compared to say a theology paper. Each community has a preferred style of writing. Whereas Shakespearean literature prefers long flowery language, the business school prefers very concise and straightforward sentences.
By doing ethnographies I was able to become more aware of my surroundings. I started to tacitly realize the differences in writing that exist in our world. Even when doing basic things like scrolling through Twitter I was able to notice how tweets or memes were written and how they proved effective within their respective community. Being aware of these types of writing styles I was able to succeed in my academics. Before sitting to do a homework assignment or beginning a large paper, I would catch myself thinking about what the most effective way to approach this task was. For example, for some of my large readings I decided that taking notes on a google docs document was the most efficient way to write, however, for some of my shorter readings I discerned that printing out the document and annotating on it directly would be more efficient. Similarly, I realized that for some of my classes having a printed out copy was much more beneficial to me and for others keeping the electronic copy was sufficient. Furthermore, for classes such as microeconomics I decided that taking short handwritten notes was the best way to remember the lectures, however, in my real estate lectures the speed at which the lectures go and the type of information that is presented made it so that the typed notes were better.
Being cognizant of the various types of writing that exist has opened my mind to see how the world communicates. For better or worse (in this case better), I will continue to tacitly be aware of the types of writing that surround my everyday life.
With so much reading that is assigned in college it is very hard to keep track of all of the information. The best way to attempt to organize all of these thoughts is by annotating the readings. Annotating is a very common skill that is needed in order to be successful. Annotating within itself is a very important type of writing. It is comprised of shorthand notes that are personalized. The main point of annotating is so that one will be able to go back and remember the important points of a document. For me, things such as highlighting, circling, and underlining all carry their own meaning. Underlining signifies importance, circling signifies even more importance, and finally highlighting represents a piece of information that is incredibly important. This combination of notes creates successful annotations. Doing this throughout high school, I thought that I had mastered this art and was ready to implement it in college. However, realizing that most of my classes’ readings are online, I needed to find a better way to take notes. At first I began to translate my annotations onto a google docs, however, I realized quickly that this was not efficient. Recently, I have begun to use the google chrome extension “Hypothes.is”. This extension allows one to annotate on websites as well as pdf files. I have found great success in using this extension and I have realized that I have had to adapt, once again, to how I annotate my documents. These type of annotations represent not only my growth as a student, but also the evolution of the academic system as a whole.
For any type of project, planning is crucial. No matter what type of project or paper has to be done, there is always a planning stage that goes into it. As finals are approaching and papers are being assigned like crazy, I have found that creating these initial outlines for essays is the hardest initial obstacle to overcome. It reminds me of what was said during my freshman fall writing class; the hardest part of any essay is getting the first sentence correct.
My outlines are typically very sporadic at first. I take a blank sheet of paper and begin to write every bit of information over the topic that I can think of; essentially, I collect my data. Then, I start to look at it and try to form certain relationships between my information. This is all done with the goal of trying to formulate a thesis. After I think I have a working thesis, I begin to piece the rest of the outline together by bringing in supporting evidence, possible objections, and just generally structuring out the essay. Although every once in a while I create a very strong outline, it never ends up perfectly mirroring my final copy. This is because once I start writing my essay my thesis begins to change little by little. Despite the imperfections with outlining, as is often said, failing to plan is planning to fail. This type of writing, similar to general note taking, is very personalized and is intended only to help me. Using shorthand, ignoring grammar rules, and overall being very messy with my initial outline, the writing that is done for the actual essay is very different than what is presented in the outline; nevertheless, the ideas are the same.
Writing emails is incredibly quick. Replacing traditional mail, email has allowed people to communicate at an incredibly fast rate. Similar to texting, you can write and receive emails within seconds from all across the world. However, despite this, there is an unspoken etiquette that comes with emails. When texting, one can typically write very informally and correct mistakes in seconds. However, the atmosphere of emails is much more formal. Most of the times emails are used to communicate in the professional field and require formalities. Both texting and email have similarities in their feasibility, however, they are used for different types of messages.
Since coming to Georgetown one thing that I have noticed is the etiquette that needs to be followed in email writing. When writing to professors or recruiters I need to follow very formal writing. Often times it is so stressful to craft a perfect email to a professional that it takes a lot of time to merely come up with one paragraph. More so, once this email is sent sometimes the reply I get is written very informally. What this shows about the bounded-space of email writing is that the etiquette that one has to follow depends on what role you play in relation to the other person. Those who ranked higher and are being asked for a favor or a question can be more flexible in the informalities they use. On the other hand, those who are writing to someone in a higher position must be very meticulous in how they construct their email.
In our modern world, everyone is always texting. Texting has become the primary form of communication surpassing other forms of communication such as phone calls. People of all ages are constantly texting one another, and it has become so popular that often times we text people that are even in the same building. It has become an integral part of our everyday life and it has changed how we view language forever. The speed at which people text makes it so that we do not have to think much about grammar rules. The main point of texting is merely for the other person to understand. Thus, strictly following even basic spelling rules is not of utmost importance. Texting used to be considered a very poor form of writing and detrimental to students, however, as time goes on more and more people have begun to accept the benefits of texting. Texting is evidence of how our communication has evolved. Over the years texting has slowly changed our perception of language. As texting kept developing, people began to use formal grammar less and less every time. Sentences got shorter and acronyms began to take the place of commonly used expressions. Expressions such as “on my way”, turned into “omy”. Using shorthand and ignoring formal grammar rules, we have essentially created a new type of language. Studying language and rhetoric this semester, I have begun to understand how texting has developed and why even though this new language does not follow formal grammar rules it can still be effective.
This weekend I spent time reformatting my resume for possible internships over the summer. I had a high school resume that was oriented towards gaining admission into a University, however, now my target audience has changed. Originally, my resume was to highlight the successes of my high school experience and focus strongly on test scores. Now, my focus is on Georgetown. What I am majoring in, what clubs I am a part of, what classes I am taking, and how I am taking advantage of resources available here. Thus, the difference between my old and new resume is essentially the audience. However, all resumes share similar characteristics. They are written to highlight only what we consider to be our very best accomplishments. They are analogous to a highlight reel. They are methodically planned out, structured, and filled with content meant to impress potential employers. Therefore, with everyone trying to impress employers and receive internships or job offers, the stakes are very high.
When I started this resume I thought that it would be very easy to transfer my information into a new and more professional format, however, it took me a lot longer than expected. I had to carefully think about how to format my resume and effectively use the minimal amount of space that I had available. Eventually, I got frustrated that so much time had to go into creating something that was very short in length. However, once I finished I felt very proud and relieved that I had a document to share with potential employers.
Being in the course “The Problem of God”, we write theological analysis over the various authors that we read. This sort of writing is similar to the type of writing that I did during debate in high school, however at the same time is very different. In debate, writing takes the form of arguments. An idea is presented and then refuted until only the most important points are left to be contented. Theological papers sort of mimic this type of conversation. The way I look at this writing is as a conversation between an author and my ideas. A general structure for this type of writing is that the main idea of an author is stated, I bring in objections to this idea, and then I analyze what the author says in response or how he would most likely respond. I typically have started this type of essay in the morning and come back to it later in the day. I like to lay out an outline in the morning and come back to it later in order to let the ideas simmer for a few hours. I feel very stressed when I write this sort of paper because it requires a lot of going back and forth between authors and my “original” ideas. I found that taking the time to make a detailed outline helps alleviate some of this stress when writing the paper. The audience of this paper is directly just my professor, however it mimics scholarly writing. Thus, the audience can be considered the academic community. The stakes of this paper can be very high if you take into account the implications of arguing theology. The aim of the paper is to build on different theological ideas and argue other ones. The type of feedback that comes from this writing is very argumentative. Being that you are building on or arguing very controversial and strong felt ideas, the response can be another argument against the ideas presented.
Being in the McDonough School of Business freshmen are able to enroll in a first-year seminar. The purpose of these seminars is to be exposed to business classes in our freshmen fall. As part of my freshmen seminar, my first assignment was to write a business paper. The paper was supposed to reflect an analysis on a property in Washington DC. Writing this paper was very different than any other paper I have written. Rather than focusing on merely MLA, a big part of this paper was the visual aspect. Large labels, colors, and bullet points were all encouraged parts of the paper. Also, instead of writing eloquently we were told to write in short and concise sentences. The audience of this paper were people looking to invest in the property. Thus, the paper had to reflect a sort of roadmap. It had to show all the important information about a property very quickly. Hence the reason for the emphasis on the visual appealing portion of the paper. What is at stake in this type of writing is that the audience understands all the important aspects of the property even if they do not read the entire paper. I started this paper in the morning and finished around midday. I felt very focused while I wrote this paper because the purpose was merely to get information across. Most of the work was done in the actual analysis, and the paper itself gave me the creativity to detail the information I wanted to in the format of my choosing.
With the exception of a few classes, most courses that I took in high school were complemented by teacher written notes. This meant that for the most part taking notes was not as rigorous nor as important as it is in college. That being said, a type of writing that I have noticed during my first weeks of college is note taking. Being that every class requires one to taken notes, this form of writing has been a part of my daily life. Note taking is very informal and unique to each person. Being that the audience of my notes is only myself, it follows no rules, however, does contain a structure. While note taking contains no rules, it is important to establish a unique structure in order to accurately translate the meaning of what is being studied. This structure is dependent on bullet points, abbreviations, symbols, underlining, and circling. When I take notes I use symbols for different meanings. For example, I use the symbol “Ø” as a negation. In my notes, something like “Fish argues that humans do not agree with one another” would be simply written as “Fish argues humans Ø agree with one another”. This is an example of how my note taking does not follow any rules, yet follows a structure that is unique to me. Similarly, I know that a circled word indicates importance, but an underlined one carries more weight. The reason I can write my notes in this way is because I am the audience, and the only thing at stake with this form of writing is that I am able to understand the main points of a reading or lecture.