Learning a new fact, mastering a skill, or completing a project can be a source of excitement and pride that you will want to share with others. There are several ways that you can share your sense of accomplishment and savour and benefit from the learning process you went through. One tool to help you get ready to write is a learning log.
Learning logs are important because they help you keep track of what you are learning. This is important regardless of what that knowledge is. It could be writing a play, playing a musical instrument, doing a chemistry experiment, or learning a foreign language. You can use a learning log to record and reflect on the knowledge you have gained – from living in the world, from studying in your classes and from your own thinking. The log is more than just a record of information – it can be a powerful learning tool. How is that so? Writing what you have learned often provides a new perspective and reveals connections that you otherwise might not have noticed. Has it happened to you before that you read through something you wrote and you began to wonder if truly it was you who wrote it? That’s the power of record keeping.
What do journals do for you? A journal is your own private place for your writing. You can use a journal any way you wish. It can be a way both to collect ideas and to get extensive writing practice. Some individuals use journals to record spontaneous thoughts so that when they get a chance, they can put those thoughts into writing. There are several ways you may use your journal. One is simply for enjoyment purposes. This works if you are a thoughtful person that likes to do deep thinking. You are thus afforded the opportunity to relish your thoughts and write about them extensively by referring to your journal. Another way to use your journal is to free your imagination. Putting thoughts down in writing surely helps you clear your head and free your mind. Also, as a writer, you need a lot of space, freedom, and safety to experiment. Your journal is yours only and you get to handle it the way you like, so feel free to use it to your advantage. Journals also help you to try out writing ideas and approaches that are not fully formed and that you would be afraid to share with a reader – remember, it’s your world! Additionally, you can use your journal as a sourcebook for clippings, photos, conversations, observations, or other authors’ works that you find interesting and that may provide writing ideas.
Are there rules for keeping a journal? Absolutely none! Nothing is cast in stone here. Some writers just talk to themselves on paper. Their journals include entries of unformed ideas or impressions that will never be developed, or personal experiences or feelings that later turn into a story or poem. Others include completed pieces of imaginative writing, such as science-fiction stories, humorous essays or poems not done for an audience but purely for personal pleasure. What’s the point? No matter how you use your journal, it can provide ideas for writing and help you develop both those ideas and your skills as a writer. As you progress, you would then want to showcase your writing. How can you go about this?
Writing portfolios is a sure way to showcase and share what you have written as well as to track your writing progress. What are portfolios? They are a collection of finished pieces of writing and selected notes as drafts. What if you are unsure at any point? You may decide to also have a separate working folder that you can save your ‘writing in progress’. Later, you may transfer the piece when finished to your portfolio. One sure thing to help you in this process is to attach a note to your work. This note could help you reflect on your writing process and evaluate the results. As you periodically reflect on the notes, you will come to see how much progress you have made. Why is that the case?
You can use a writing portfolio to analyse how your writing process has changed – or remained the same – and to discover how your personal writing style has developed. If you’re a student, your teacher can use your portfolio to evaluate your pieces of writing, to track your development as a writer and to identify where you still need work so that you get the needed support. Remember, a writing portfolio is like a personal history book in which you record your progress as a writer and your development as a person. Your understanding of this process can help you continue to learn and to grow.
You will also need to think through your writing process to firm it up. How do you learn about yourself and the word around you? It may possibly be through reading, asking questions, observing and experiencing. However, writing is another important source of knowledge. It helps you not only to communicate your thoughts but also to clarify and understand them. When you write, you not only construct sentences and paragraphs, but you also create meaning. Like any other learning activity, writing is a process and it uses skills that you have already mastered and that you apply in your daily interactions.
What are stages of the writing process? There is not a one-size-fits-all description. The writing process varies greatly because people think, conceive ideas and write differently. For most writers, however, four basic stages are observed. They are prewriting; drafting and discovery; revising and proofreading; and publishing and presenting. Our next article will focus on developing how these four parts can help your writing process.