As humans there are a series of things that comes to us as instinctively as breathing. Just as we all have the capability of forming thoughts due to our complex minds. We often have the need or even obligation to write these thoughts down. Whether it is in a journal recapping the events in a day or for an essay in an English class. Writing and composing a paper is unavoidable and each time we compose a piece we are faced with different obstacles and in confronting these obstacles we learn to overcome them and become better writers in the process.
English itself is known to be the hardest and most intricate language to learn and with writing already difficult as it is, having to follow all of English’s rules add an additional thousand barriers to the mix (Reid 3). That is not to say, just because there are these rules there aren’t expectations to those rules; the English language is filled with contradictions. We actually make English and writing more difficult when we try to write to these rules as opposed to writing with the sole purpose of connecting our thoughts and ideas to one another (Reid 4).
As writers when we forcefully try to follow these rules we begin to develop what we call “writers block,” which is the inability to think of what to write. Which may seem like a real hindrance to anyone, but luckily for us Reid provides us with an easy step to avoid scrolling through Instagram aimlessly with hopes that a picture would provide us with some inspiration. Reid poses the simple idea that we write about what we know so we can show our readers what we are trying to express, as opposed to simply telling them. That way in presenting the information in a manner where our readers could grasp and retain the information, both their needs and our needs could be accomplished simultaneously without any further effort or clarification needed (Reid 4).
Take for example from my own personal collection of writing. I was told to write about a controversial topic, which for any writer may be hard to write about, because just coming up with a topic might stubble most people. Well for me when I had finally figured out a topic, I had no idea where to begin leaving my writers block to take over. However when I had utilized Reid’s easy to follow solution I had just began to write letting my ideas flow onto the paper without the worry of my format. That way I was at least allowing my thoughts to be put down, so I could then later formulate those thoughts into a coherent idea. Which quickly got rid of my writer’s block, allowing for my own ideas about fracking and the environment to form into a deep but meaningful sentence: “The environment has always been in a constant tug-and-pull fight between the safety and wellbeing of the earth against the continuous progression of the people” (Perez 1). Which not only allowed me to begin my essay, but it also allowed my readers to know what it is I was talking about, as well as understand my own personal stance on the subject.
Ironically the English language is not just like any other subject where once we get an idea down that is the end of that and all other rules formulate on top of the single rule. Instead as we further progress within the English language once we think or even feel that we are beginning to grasp the concepts English throws us a curve ball. Reid’s essay Ten Ways to Think About Writing addresses these curve balls with a metaphor titled “A Thousand Rules and Three Principals.” Where within this metaphor she addresses the “do’s” and “do not’s” of writing. Reid hits a specific curve ball that often is hit close to home for most writers. Reid addresses the issue of repetition within one’s writing, which may not seem like an issue at first but when you’re someone like me being told two different things it may be a bit baffling as to which way is the correct way. What I am referring to as well as what Reid had referred to in her essay is the action of writing instructors as well as books telling us writers two countering arguments. On one hand writing instructors like to ridicule writers for repeating one’s self but on the other hand books such as They Say I Say promote the idea of repetition within ones writing. Often stating it is essential to maintaining the meaning of a story as well as captivating an audiences attention (Graff and Birkenstein 100).
Graff and Birkenstein are not the only ones who also believe the repetition in writing is crucial to the success of an essay (Reid 11). Reid breaks down the idea to us explaining that, in terms of “repeating oneself” the idea is to never reuse a sentence or example. Instead what is really meant to take place is the repetition of one’s idea and or stance on a particular subject using different connections and examples. So that way once an essay is done being read, there would be no the need to address any other questions and or concerns. Reid just like Graff and Birkenstein try to help us writers maintain our readers by addressing such questions as “Who cares” and “Why does it matter” early on within our essays so we could encourage our audiences to continue reading our papers (Graff and Birkenstein 93).In order to prevent the feelings of both a writers and readers time to be wasted and pointless. For when we writers pour our hearts and soles onto our papers we do not want to feel like it was for nothing.
In having such a rule being the difference of what would make or break an essay, these are the sort of contradictions that are within the writing world that make it difficult to compose a paper. As writers we are constantly fed these ways in which we should and should not write and it is a bit baffling that there is no clear cut format. That is why due to the lack of continuity within these rules, we as writers we should take into account these techniques. However in the rules being so indecisive we should not just follow them blindly. Instead we should formulate our own thoughts and ideas using theses rules as a templet for guidance so we could then write with more fluency and then go back to our paper to make the proper corrections where needed.
Going back to yet another essay I had written, although English’s rules are there to make the language clearer and proper its often hard to continue throughout a paper being strictly proper in language. That is why in writing there is a such thing as a rough draft where such issues do not have to be worried about with such high regard. The rough draft is there to serve as a utility so such ideas and connections could first be made initially on paper and then edited to better fit the tone of a writer. Take for example the sentence of “Fracking as what some compare it to, is similar to the slave trade that took place within the states. Slavery had brought great economic benefits with the cost of lives, fracking brings great benefits with the cost of the environment, both serving as a moral dilemma leaving no definitive answer as to what is right and what is wrong” (Perez 3).
This sentence within the rough draft of my paper was completely different when I had first began my paper. Initially it had started off as “fracking is like the slave trade, both having its consequences leaving people unable to distinguish right from wrong.” As we could tell the later sentence was underdeveloped, but developed nevertheless. For if I had allowed my writers block to stump me with the proper format my mind may have never formed the metaphor that connected the two ideas. Leaving the idea of a templet with rules to be a writers best bet that way one does get stuck with such as simple rule as “I before E except after C” (Reid 3). So in the future a writer could utilize these templets to the point where they would no longer need one. Having then such rules come to them instinctively, to the point where writing would no longer be difficult due to rules but due to other issues instead(Graff, Birkenstein, 1).
Needless to say that since we are the writers and composers of these papers, we all have thoughts that we would like to address. Thoughts in which we need to properly formulate in a way not so much that they are convenient for us but convenient and coherent enough for our readers. We as writers are often passionate about the topics we write about and understand these topics to a point where our readers may not. Which due to our intricate understanding we may get caught up in our subjects and tangent off into new ones. Leaving us the writers to lose focus on what we are trying to achieve within our essays.
Which take for example something as simple as the idea of a “little green ball.” If a writer was to write a story containing a “little green ball” within the particular story there would have to be additional sentences addressing this ball. For if a writer wants to really show their readers what this green ball looks like as opposed to just telling them. The author would need to include some necessary details to fully paint this picture of the “little green ball.” Which often enough does not happen with writers, due to their brains moving faster than their hands. Instead what often happens is the simple subject of a ball gets lost in translation from our brains to our papers. Leaving an audience to forcefully imagine their own little green ball instead of our own.
Which without a doubt we all may be able to conceptualize what a green ball is, but people’s definition of “little” may be severely different from one another let alone our own (Reid 6). Now in this only being the first line of defense solving the issue of how big or small this green ball is meant to be, would only half the battle. The other half would consist of deciding which tint of green the author is trying to express and what type of ball. With over a million different shades of green and an equal amount of different types of balls it is almost impossible to guess the exact color and type. Leaving the audiences to only assume and or guess what we the authors are really trying to express.
This example only begins to demonstrate how difficult it is to get a point across using little to no details. Often enough when we as authors want to convey a specific detail and or example within our essays we need to break it down to our readers and treat it as if we are explaining it to a toddler especially if a given details is essential. That is not to say that an audience can not comprehend a subject and needs to be treated like a toddler, it is often helpful to envision such a situation so our readers are not left in the dust and being forced to make up conclusions for themselves. Now on the other hand if the details are strictly not important and only the subject matter it is perfectly understandable to brush pass the details (Reid 7).
Understandably this issue of leaving readers “in the dust” has its very own metaphor which is addressed in Reid’s essay. Reid explains that the act of leaving readers behind allowing them to guess the details is often like driving down a highway passed houses to then state “that is my favorite house.” Many times over none our passengers i.e our readers are forced to guess which “house” we are talking about and are often left in bewilderment as to which house we were referring to. Reid explains this situation to be the issue of “you know what I mean” (Reid 8) and issue which is often hard for writers to strife away from due to a lack of details being addressed. Thus being the reason why often we writers need to treat our readers as toddlers so we could warn them about the up coming house and or explain to them what it is we are really saying without them assuming what it is we are trying to say.
Take for example within this essay alone I had assumed most of my readers will understand the topic of “fracking” which might actually not even be the case. I had assumed my readers would know what it is I am talking about and I resulted back to the idea of “you know what I mean.” To prevent such an issue from occurring allow me to explain what fracking is. Hydraulic fracturing or what some people call it as “fracking,” is the process of forcefully opening subterranean rock by introducing liquid at high pressures with the intention of extracting natural gas and oil. Now with that being cleared I can safely assume my readers would briefly understand me and my refrence to the topic. Allowing me to continue on my essay safely without worry.
As I had mentioned it before English and writing are filled with these multi step complicated rules that we are told we need to follow in order to “write correctly” and become “good writers.” Ironically most of these rules which we are told to follow are not even followed by some of the most famous of writers. Take for example William Faulkner who ignored basic punctuation as well as started sentences with conjunctions, and Charles Dickens who wrote in run on sentences. In this being the case it can be really difficult and quiet cumbersome for writers to understand what it is, we are being told to do.
At a point if it has not already, writing becomes a real chore and as we further our knowledge in the subject it seems like writing instructors and or just the English language itself anthropomorphized and began to make up its own rules. The length of a text is one of those rules where it seems like it is an extra barrier was formed when it did not need to be. According to Reid there is no such thing as a limitation to the length of a text she emphasizes that it all depends on one’s targeted audience (Reid 15). She states it is perfectly okay to break up a paragraph as long as it is to shorten up the content and present the information in a clearer form. As well as an essay should be as long as it needs to be as long as you still have things to say.
In using this very own essay, had I chosen to leave every paragraph in conjunction with one another without any sort of separation between them. I would without a doubt lose readers, because no and I mean no one would want to read a block of text on any sort of median. That is why it is always essential to break up one’s paragraphs where seen fitted and should not be weary of how long a text should be. No reader nor writer wants to end a sentence with an incomplete thought. Thus being the reason why any writer should just continue on with there essay, and not worry about going “over a page” to finish their thought.
Nevertheless there are never easy answers when it comes to writing, because writing is and will always be difficult (Reid 22). Luckily for us, in using the rules that we have learn and gain throughout our years of life, writing can be less of a nuisance. Having writing become more of an escape even a paradise for some, because in the end writing is just a way for people to express themselves. In that being the case as writers we should just have fun with writing and find a style that works for us so we could make the action fun again.
Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W Norton, 2008.
Reid, E. Shelley. “Ten Ways To Think About Writing: Metaphoric Musings for College Writing Students.” Ed. Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky. Vol. 2. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor P, 2011. 3-23. Writing Spaces. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.