Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Composition Writing Classes: As good as you make them

You think you already know how to write an essay. You’ve suffered through English classes and think you should have been able to test out of this dreaded, required class that seems like wasted time away from your major.

You are wrong. Composition writing classes offer you not only the skills necessary for future academic papers, but the writing skills you’ll need throughout your life. No matter what career you choose, you’ll need to read with a critical eye, communicate effectively and comprehend important information.

Composition writing classes give you the gift of time to focus on your writing skills. Voice, mechanics, research, precision of language, audience will all be issues in your writing if you don’t learn how to naturally integrate them into your work. A simple memo or email without careful editing can turn into a PR disaster or, if nothing else, embarrassment.

You are usually given the freedom to choose topics – or at least an angle – that interests you. Choose wisely. A bored writer is never a good writer. We are taught to write what we know, but really, writing is a process of discovery. Choose to write about something that piques your interest. A good paper topic will allow you to be naturally interested in your subject so that you can more easily focus on the mechanics of writing.

Whether you can recycle your composition essays into publishable pieces or graduate school applications or not, you will have learned how to write well after you finish your school’s required courses. (Remember that most schools prohibit you from turning in papers from one class to another. You must write new papers for each assignment. The reason is that if you simply wrote one paper and continued handing it in to different professors, what would you have learned? That would be a waste of time for everyone involved.)

Your professor will do all that she can do to teach you good writing hygiene. It is up to you to participate, ask questions and take advantage of this opportunity.

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