There is a difference between being good at writing and being a good writer. One who is good at writing can write eloquently and carry a message across a paper, but a good writer can put their personality on paper without jeopardizing the story. This distinction isn’t wholly apparent at face value, but under more scrutiny we can see the depth of this difference. I can be good at writing but what does it matter if I don’t bring anything else to the table. My identity needs to shine in order to be successful. People need to fall in love with not just my writing, but with me as a person. Comma splices only get me so far. I’d much rather misspell every word than have a perfect paper with no substance. Initially I didn’t view writing as such a vast opportunity, but the more I learn the more I realize the subtleties that eventually make a good writer.
Writing is a process. I’m assuming that’s why The Processes of Writing is an adept name for this class. If done right, writing is a perpetual growth benefiting all parties involved. The reader learns as much as the writer, and the tutor learns as much as the tutee. The process of writing involves thought, and even though it is more overlooked it involves action as well. I can think all day, but I don’t reveal the truth of my thoughts unless I write them down. In the same facet, my words don’t become real unless I say them. Am I getting too philosophical? (I seem to ask myself this question a lot).
Writing is a form of communication that enables us to uncover our fears and desires. Free writing allows me to ponder thoughts that I ordinarily would not. Research teaches me things I otherwise wouldn’t have known. During my time in the sales industry, I learned that in order to reach my goals I must write them down. Because of my dances with depression, I’ve realized that my writing is a reflection of my mindset. The accent I use when I write is not just built upon where I’m from, but who I’m with and what I’ve experienced. Every word that pops into my head translates into a possible story to tell, and stories are a major defining characteristic of humanity. Writing brings me closer to myself by allowing me to learn about my tendencies and goals one word at a time.
Consistently writing develops my identity as a writer, person, and tutor. As a future tutor, I know my goal should be to improve students as writers and allow them to develop their own identity. Since a writer’s identity and accent go hand in hand, I don’t think a writer’s accent is solely based upon grammar errors. In Teaching Writing to Second Language Writers by Shanti Bruce and Ben Rafoth, a premise is established that “an accent is made visible through missing or incorrect articles, verb endings, and repositions” (Bruce and Rafoth 65). I believe this is a counterproductive view on individualism. Basing someone’s accent and identity solely upon their prowess or lack there-off in grammar weakens what it means to be a writer. The accent isn’t a result of mistakes, but instead a result of personality.
If we emphasize Bruce and Rafoth’s definition of accent to revolve around identity rather than errors, we will be able to define writer’s identity properly. A writer’s identity should not be defined by one’s mistakes, because that means individualism evaporates when one is grammatically adept. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aware of our mistakes and try to learn from them; instead, the definition of a writer’s identity should be by one’s word choices and narrative structure. The same way we get a glimpse of a person’s vocal accent through what they say and how they say it, a written accent is also revealed through how they articulate their words and not just by their mistakes.
I came into my ENC3491 class with full intentions of just getting a job out of it. The goal was not to take this class and improve as a writer. I’m sure deep down I had some ambitions of self-improvement, but I just figured I’d breeze through it. Since it was my last semester, all I wanted was an easy A and maybe a part time job. Little did I know, I would slowly but surely get much more out of it. With a lighthearted professor and a welcoming atmosphere, my semester turned into an actual joy instead of a chore.
Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring. Pearson Longman, 2008.
Bruce, Shanti and Ben Rafoth. Tutoring Second Language Writers. Logan: Utah State UP, 2016.