Thursday, December 27, 2012

Writer, Edit Thyself: What I Learned from #AcWriMo

Last month I made the decision to (loosely) take part in #acwrimo, which stands for academic writing month, a month long commitment to academic writing. I had projects that had fallen by the wayside that I wanted to complete before the end of the year and I figured this would help me complete them. My main goal for the month was to devote an hour to my writing first thing in the morning when my mind was fresh and I wasn't preoccupied with the emails piling up in my inbox. Everyday I woke up at 5:30 am and started writing. Each day "writing" took a different form but I basically committed that hour every morning to working on one of my abandoned projects.

I've heard many times that a great way to improve your writing was by reading and I didn't believe it until I began #acwrimo. At first the main purpose of my reading was to find sources to support my claims but as I continued to read, I learned how to write for my field. Not only did I acquire new vocabulary that was content-specific but I gained a better understanding of the style of writing that was being published in my field. My writing began to reflect the work of someone who was becoming familiar with scholarly writing.

Starting #acwrimo, I thought that I was going to fall in love with writing, the act of taking my words out of my head and putting them on paper, which I did. The more I wrote, the easier it became to write and even if an idea wasn't fully formed, I knew that I could add on to it later. But what I wasn't expecting was how much I enjoyed the editing process. Before entering the world of education, I was an English major in college so writing was a regular habit for me. Despite all my writing I hardly ever edited my work because I believed that it was good; I found it be an unnecessary practice. Now, once I started editing the pieces I had written, I was hooked. What I found fascinating about editing was taking an average piece of work and watching it change and evolve over time until it was something that I was proud of and eager to share. Removing a word, moving a sentence, rewording a phrase opened up a new level of meaning, one that was closer to the ideas in my head.

In the beginning of November, I thought this writing challenge was going to be make me a better writer and it did by making me a stronger editor.

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