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Journals

A journal is a precious thing. In this day of fast cars, blaring commercials, sound bites, and short attention spans, a journal can be a quiet refuge for reflection. It is the place in this course where you can freely express yourself and not worry about the more complex dynamics of reaching an audience. In this dialogue with your inner self, you will express the thoughts and feelings that later can become part of your more formal writing in the course. Right now you might feel a bit like Ann Frank did about keeping a journal:

It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I --nor for that matter anyone else-- will be interested in the unbosomings of a ... schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.

A journal will help you discover how you feel and who you are, as well as help you find your own style of expression. You can cultivate a close relationship with your journal. You will find that, like a good friend, you can depend upon it to listen to your concerns and problems, as well as your hopes and dreams. Also, a journal is a place to write just for practice, and it is this practice which will increase your fluency.
The origin of the word journal comes from the French word "daily." A journal works best when it becomes a daily habit. To this end, we will be writing in our journal five days a week for the first seven weeks of the semester. Then we will shift to fewer journals. You may not notice anything at first, but gradually your journal will become an extension of yourself which you turn to naturally.

HOW WE WILL BE ORGANIZING THE JOURNAL (1st seven weeks)

1) Freewriting Journals: Prolific Writing (Four each week)
2) Process Journals (One each week)

You will be writing your journal five days a week, and each week you will do two different types of journals. All freewriting journals should be written on loose-leaf paper and turned in each once a week on our Journal day when you arrive in class.

Freewriting Journals: Prolific Writing
Anything goes in this section of your journal (within decent bounds, of course). This is the place for you to get used to expressing yourself in writing. Because it is the journal, you don't have to worry about "doing it right." For ten minutes at a time, four times a week, you will write prolifically. Prolific writing is its own kind of writing, so let me explain what I see it as. First off, you write continuously, which means you don't pause as you write. When you reach those moments when you want to stop, when you feel an overwhelming compulsion to stop, when you have written ahead of your thoughts and you don't know where or what to write next--don't stop. Instead of looking up and stopping, keep writing through your "empty-headedness." Just keep writing your thoughts: "Well, I don't know what to say next, my hand hurts, when is this ten minutes going to be up, I sure hope I rolled up my windows because it's raining ..." Keep your pen or pencil moving. Eventually, you will come back to some sort of topic. The object in this type of writing is not at first apparent. By writing in this way we are not listening at all (as much as that is possible) to our critical side. The idea is to get used to putting our thoughts down on paper unencumbered by any critical straightjackets. Continued practice in this type of writing helps us get down what we mean more easily. (See also Freewriting.)

The Process Journal:
This is the place for you to reflect on your own writing process and keep an account of how you are changing and developing your personal techniques as a writer. Self-evaluation is the first step of real change in both your writing and your view of yourself as a writer. Once a week you will sit down and write about your writing. You may write about how your invention went on a particular draft, or about your experience editing, or about how you think you did after an essay is turned in. The process journal will lead to the culminating piece of writing you do on your growth as a writer in the Final Exam. Process Journals are more "extended" than freewriting journals since they will be a minimum of 250 words.

Each Process Journal involves two parts:
1) Responding to the Process Journal prompt and posting it in the appropriate Discussion Form inside Blackboard
2) Reading the posts of your peers and writing four quick "ah-hah" responses of 25-50 words.

--What is the "Ah Hah!" response
This response must come after you have read and considered the process journals of your peers. In this brief 25-50 word response, you write about what you have gained from reading these process journals of your peers--some insight, some questioning of previous premises, some confirmation of ideas, some different perspective, some "ah hah" moment for you. To do your "ah hah" respones, hit REPLY to peer journals you want to respond to that trigger this kind of response from you. .
Change the Subject of the message to Re: Ah Hah!


 

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