Whether you’ve read any of the other posts related to my writing as design series, you should read this! My two students, S & J, really blew me away with their final response to the question you see in the title. Both bring some thought-provoking points to light for educators to take in as well as students (professionals in other fields as well!). Alright, that is enough from me; I’ll let S and J do all the talking…Are you a designer of or a reactor to school-based writing?
J: Although I’d like to get to the level of being a designer of text, I think I lean a little more towards the “reactor” side of the spectrum. To be fair, I do try to put in my honest opinions and personal writing style into my writing, whether it be for school or whatever else, but I still feel as though I don’t make the topic completely “mine” yet; it still sounds a little artificial to me. It’s difficult to explain but I feel that writing where the student just reacts to a prompt always sounds a bit phony and doesn’t convey real feelings. As for my writing, it still sounds a little bit “staged” to me but it’s gotten better throughout years of practice in school.
S: This question is one that inspired a lot of thought for me. Am I a designer of text or am I a reactor? Am I an active participant in what I write for school or am I just simply a bystander uncaring of the matter at hand? And how can I be sure? In truth I have mulled over this one question for over twenty-four hours before writing down my thoughts. In a way this one fact alone can be used to peg which one I tend to be. I mean, wouldn’t it deduce that I’m a designer of text, simply because I brainstormed before putting unbaked thoughts onto paper? Am I not revealing that I am in control of what I spew onto the paper for its ultimate appraisal? Well, to say the least, I would love the idea of me being the designer. I would love it almost as much as the thought that I — an incredibly indecisive person — could actually discern myself as one or the other. However I cannot discern myself as one or the other, especially since I feel as if I am most likely one of the least qualified people to be revealing who I am as a writer, even if I had more than a meager amount of time to be doing so. With that said, the most truthful revelation I have come to when pondering this question is that I am both a designer and a reactor. I get that I sound as if I am taking the easy way out, but first hear me out. Then you can decide that for yourself. I say that I am both because it is true. How can one simply be one thing all the time? Mainly one thing, yes, but completely one thing? I don’t believe that for one second. And no, I am not pegging myself as both off of some silly belief I happen to have. I can back myself up with years of experience writing essays for school. To start off with, I am a designer of text because of the moments I bring myself to care. Oftentimes I care because I have connected to the prompt laid out before me and I feel that I owe it to myself and the teacher/audience to care. Otherwise where is my voice? Where is the authenticity to the text I am spinning out on my own personal “imagination spin wheel”? It is also in these moments that I have myself step into the audience’s shoes and ask myself this, “What would I want to read if I were not the author of this text? What do I want the audience to feel and understand to get them to react how I want them to?” I’ll be the first to admit that I may not think this in so many words, but it is along the lines of what I am actually thinking. Though, as I said before, I cannot be completely one of the two.
I certainly have a little bit of the reactor in me as well. Less than when I was little and annoyed with writing than I do now as an appreciator of my capability to write, but a bit of a reactor nonetheless. That part of me (I would say) peeks her head out around the corner less than the designer part of me does because of the fact that I have OCD and am very much a perfectionist. Still, she does come out to play on occasion. Most times it is because I have no way whatsoever to connect to the prompt at hand. Whether it is because of inexperience, I have no idea. Sometimes I wish I did know, but that is a slightly off the topic thought, so back to what makes the reactor rear her ugly head. As I was saying, it is most times because I have no connection to the prompt, yet there are other times as well that tie into the topic of previous posts. These times having to do with timed writings. The one phrase every student dreads to hear and most teachers dread to say. A timed writing is definitely the time to show off a not-so-glamorous paper and receive an even more not-so-glamorous grade in return, which is a shame. How are timed writings revealing any of the skills we are capable of implementing into our papers? They aren’t if you ask me, which is irrelevant, but still worthy of taking into account (yet another opinion of mine).
So back to the original question (which I have hopefully been thorough enough at answering as I see it as a question worthy of my time). I honestly do believe that I am both a designer and a reactor, however, as I stated before, I do tend to lean towards the designer side of things. However, I do also realize that I need to work on not being as much as a reactor to prompts, especially since I am sure I react to the prompt more than I should in times that I feel lazy, causing me to put off writing my assigned essays.
Wow, is all I have to say. I’ll just let their words speak for themselves. Wanna leave some words of encouragement for S and J? Please feel free to in the comments!