I just finished reading Chapter 2 of Jody Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole. In this chapter, titled “Partners in Action,” Shipka discusses how people have begun to take their thinking and composing processes for granted due to the useful tools that we call “technology.” She refers to tools we use, such as the telephone, and how we tend to forget all of the processes that go into making a phone call and being able to communicate with people. Her general point is that we need to go back to basics and think about everything that goes into completing tasks. For example, when working on a project, we should consider how we came up with our ideas and shaped them into a complete composition, such as sketching out ideas, brainstorming on paper, writing concrete rough drafts, reading aloud, peer editing, and much more. If we lose sight of these things, we start to only see the final product, but this may not even begin to represent everything that went into a work.
I think that in order to make our composing process more visible, we need to keep track of the original ideas that go into our final product. We should not forget all of the tools that we have used. We also need to consider how these “technologies” have shaped our works, whether for better or worse. The point that “We tend to move from ‘looking at the technology as an addition to life to looking at life through that technology’” is quite accurate. We forget that we are even using technology at all. Maybe then, it is important for us to keep a journal as Catherine Latterell suggests. This will remind us of how often we use these tools to shape our compositions, and that way, we will make visible the entire process that went into it. For example, I could account for all of the tools I used to write this post. I began with the physical book, I took notes on a piece of paper using a pen, and I used my laptop to pull up a word document to write a draft. All of these tools shaped my process.
Shipka’s ideas are extremely representative of how composing has become. We need to take a step back sometimes and look at everything that affects our thinking process. We should especially take into consideration which technologies are changing our lives in general.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what exactly affects the way I write. Honestly, I am not sure if there are that many external influences on my writing process. For the most part, my thoughts are a result of my state of mind.
One thing I am sure of is that I need to be wide-awake when I am writing. If I am too tired, my thoughts don’t come together very well. Actually, it’s more likely that I won’t even sit down to write because I am too lethargic. So a large cup of coffee is quite necessary for me as a writer.
In addition to this, if I sit down to write late at night, which is sometimes when I am most alert, I tend to feel as though my writing is at its best. I am not sure if that is just because I find a way to ramble, or if I am actually making sense.
When it comes to my attention span, I can’t say that new technologies or the Internet are the only things that distract me when I am trying to write. I think that pretty much anything can keep me from sitting down and putting my thoughts into words. And as you can probably see from this blog post, my thoughts sometimes end up being all over the place.
Everyone has their own writing process, but I have heard plenty of people say that writing on paper is much more stimulating than typing. I am not sure why this is true, but I can’t remember the last time I wrote a first draft on paper. Maybe I will try this for my next blog post and see how I feel about it.
I just began reading Jody Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole. I feel as though some of the things that she discussed were more noteworthy to me than others. One thing that I found particularly significant was the idea that English classrooms have evolved from the simple desks and chalkboard atmosphere. I think my current English class, Writing and Digital Media, is a prime example of that. Not only are all of the walls and projectors utilized, but the seating changes daily. I love this learning environment, but I think that the material discussed in a class is much more meaningful than the setting. This is just my personal opinion, of course. For example, every English class I have taken since the beginning of high school has entertained me, whereas classes about history would usually put me right to sleep, no matter how interesting the setting was.
I was also intrigued by the fact that Shipka points out that some freshman find the freshman English class to be a waste of time. I never took a freshman English course since I had already taken it in high school. Of course, I’m assuming the classes vary, since they are taught in different academic settings. I did feel as though that class taught me a lot. In my first AP English class, we discussed terms such as pathos, ethos, and logos, which I had never heard of before that point, but I found out just how important each of those terms is in everyday life. Who can make a good argument in conversation if you don’t appeal to the emotions, maintain credibility, or use logical support?
Additionally, since I am a communication major, I agreed with the idea that Communication and Composition scholars should have worked to integrate their ideas. I think these two focuses tend to be more closely related than some may realize.