Saturday, October 20, 2007

Writing assignments

Despite enjoying writing, I generally disliked writing assignments in English classes in school. They were always the same; the teacher always wanted three drafts, and there was supposed to a dramatic improvement between each draft. I learned, I think before even high school, that I had to game the system a bit if I wanted to do well on those assignments.

When I write, I produce a third draft or so right from the start. I revise and reorder as I type; it's distracting to do those sorts of things after the fact. I make few spelling and grammar errors, and generally those are typos and the result of my in-flight modifications to the text rather than an actual mistake. I don't call it a "third draft" out of hubris; I just tend to put multiple drafts' worth of effort into my first draft of things merely because of the way I like to write. This is why I hate writing in anything other than Word; using pencil and paper is excruciating because I can't write the way I think (and because I type faster than I write).

So, assignments in which I had to turn in multiple drafts were the bane of my educational existence. Generally the teacher would require handing in three different drafts, so what I'd have to do was save my first draft and call that a second draft, then cut things out of it (sentences, paragraphs, sections) to make a phony first draft, and then any changes that I thought of making to the paper while bored would go into a final draft which would be almost identical to the second draft. Besides the extra effort that these types of assignments required to produce drafts, I often dislike showing people work that I'm not finished with, so they were doubly annoying.

With this system, generally I'd get a great grade. Without it, I'd often get points knocked off for not making enough changes in subsequent drafts, points that wouldn't get taken off if the assignment didn't require turning in drafts and so I didn't write any. It was annoying, but certainly much less effort than changing the way I write for unaccommodating assignments. School's all about gaming the system.

Currently listening: Mute Math—Peculiar People (YouTube video is irrelevant)

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