On Introdcutions by Brianne Taormina

posted Nov 6, 2017, 3:53 PM by Writing Center   [ updated Nov 6, 2017, 3:53 PM ]
I always write my introduction first. Hear me out…
 

I, like many student writers, have been told my whole educational career that the introduction and thesis should always be the last thing written. I can hear the old adages ringing in my ears: How are you supposed to know what your paper is about until it is written? Well I flip that around. How am I supposed to write a paper when I have no direction?

My writing process is unique. I do everything teachers tell us not to do. I procrastinate until the weekend (or the day) before it is due. I not only think the second person use of “one” is annoying, but also believe that it is nearly impossible to keep writing 100% unbiased. I not only accept, but also encourage the use of first person (sparingly) in my students’ essays. I also write long complicated sentences. My introduction is always written first, and my thesis comes second.

Why does any of this matter? Because it is part of my process. I am a grad student studying English literature, and I write essays (or something like them) just about every week. Of course I don’t turn in poorly written papers, I just have a different process than most.

Now, when I say the introduction is what I write first, I mean it. Keep in mind, however, through all of the procrastination, I’m not doing nothing on my essays. Did I mention I also use double negatives? The time spent not writing my essay is instead spent thinking about it. I spend weeks thinking about a paper. While I’m sitting on my couch watching the Kansas City Chiefs beat up on the Denver Broncos, I’m thinking about my upcoming essay. What is my topic? What is my argument? What texts will I use? What quotes?

Weeks go by like this. Occasionally, I will pull out the texts themselves and read through what was important enough for me to highlight and annotate on my first read through. I laugh at my stupid jokes and sassy backtalk written in the margins. I close my book and think, and then go back to the game. I open my book again, and just as quickly, get annoyed with my lack of inspiration and close it. For weeks this happens. It is important to note here, however, that by the time I actually sit down to write my essay, it is already written – at least in my head.

On the pre-planned Writing Day, I pull out my laptop, fill the largest container I can find with coffee, and begin to write. The first thing I do is I write what I know. This usually leads me to some sort of conclusion I hadn’t considered before. This free-write word vomit almost always becomes my introduction. Suddenly, I have direction. I know what I want to say, and know what direction will take me there best. While most people have a “working thesis,” I have a working introduction. It almost never stays the same. I often rewrite my thesis about halfway through the writing process, again at the end, and then one final time before I turn the paper in. I change the “what I know word vomit” into background information important to my topic. My introduction becomes more polished, and then it usually leads into some sort of acceptable conclusion.

I do everything that instructors tell you not to, but this does not make me a bad writer. The hardest thing I had to learn is no one can teach you what writing process will work best for you. There isn’t a standard writing process that works for everyone. All of those silly mistakes teachers warn us of that lead to bad writing, can be fixed in the revision process. That’s where the magic happens. However, mistakes cannot be avoided when you don’t understand your writing process. Know how you write. Understand how you write. Own how you write. If you don’t, you will never live up to the potential you have as a writer.

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