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Castia Hunter Professor Leslie Wolcott Enc 1101 12 October 2012 Introduction Writing is an art that has been explored for years, but the fascination of how the writing process works is a topic that will continue to be researched for many years to come. Researchers such as Sondra Perl have conducted experiment s in the past in order to try to help to explain what mental process writers go through when writing. Perls experiment was the most detailed when it came to analyzing the information that she obtained. She even went as far as creating charts, continuums, and codes for the things that her participants said. After analyzing the information Sondra related her findings back to how it could help teachers teach their students more effectively. Even though Perls research was very informational, there is a gap that has not been identified or where more research can be done. The experiments that were conducted by Perl were performed in a lab setting, which most likely have made the students feel like lab rats being critically watched. In my think aloud self-study I will be writing in the comfort of my own dorm room. I chose to do the think aloud because it was the most effective way to help me learn what methods and techniques help me to write the best (Perl 317-336). Allegra Goodman is a writer who I have had the pleasure of reading about in class and the philosophy that she lives has by caused me to analyze who I am as a writer.

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Goodman proposes a new way to view your writing with her concept of the inner critic in her article. She makes a logical argument that we shouldnt compare ourselves to writers who lived centuries ago, because by placing your focus on others it prevents you from growing as a writer. Goodman evens goes as far as calling it Ancestor Worship! Throughout the article she states that it makes no sense to compare you to people whose writing styles, as well as their understanding of writing, is very different than the new discoveries that have been made in your time period. After reading this information a light bulb went off in my head. I thought to myself I dont have to try to be next Hamlet or Shakespeare because I am creative in many ways that are completely opposite of their writing style and that does not make me an unskilled writer. This information, combined with Perls experiment, has lead me down the path of choosing the think aloud project. I felt that if I could physically see the patterns that I create while writing, I could use the information to enhance the quality of my work in the future. The results that were obtained from my experiment amazed me. I noticed that there were a lot of pauses, singing, and silence (See Appendix A). While reviewing my transcripts I found that after every period of singing there was a new idea that immediately followed It(See Appendix C). At each point where there was silence new ideas followed also, but not as quickly as they came with singing. The pauses and space fillers brought nothing but frustration and anger. From this I learned that music was a medium that helped me to spawn new ideas and pauses were time periods where I was completely lost and there was a complete halt in production. What does it all mean though? These results can be used to help other student writers who run into the same issues that I do. I feel pressured and stressed out when I have to write in a quiet

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environment and it stops my creative flow. Knowing that music helps me to write was like unlocking secrets to the universe. This experiment was a key factor in helping me to evolve in my writing career. There are millions of people out there in the world who have the same mindset as me and if I can just help one person it would satisfy me. Also, future readers of my essay can take the basic elements of my experiment and apply it to themselves. Perhaps if they werent musically inclined, they could use television or write in an outdoor environment if they like nature. Methodology Just like a science experiment, there were many detailed procedures that were taken in order to get efficient results. Before actually conducting my experiment I had to decide what materials were needed. After some thought was given to this topic, a recording device, laptop, music player, a timer, and snacks were collected and set upon my desk. My room was the most comfortable writing environment for me, so my desk was the most logical place to write because it was stable. The location where you choose to conduct your experiment is very important because you have to ensure that the environment is quiet enough so that you can clearly hear yourself speak on your recording. Once all of your items are set up, make sure that you set your timer for 30 minutes and start your music. After the cosmetics of setting up a comfortable writing environment are done, begin to write your essay and verbalize every thought that you have within the 30 minute time period. My essay topic was given to me by my English teacher, but you may choose any topic to write about. It is vital that you speak clearly and say very single thought that comes to your mind. If you fail to verbalize your thoughts you will not have enough information to analyze and it will be very hard for you to find a

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correlation between the writing patterns that you have and the actual finished product, which is your essay (See Appendix A). After the 30 minutes are up and you have stopped the recording, you will go back and type everything that you said on the recording. This will be called your transcript (See Appendix C). Once you have your transcript, you will create a code for the reoccurring words and ideas that you see. For example, if you notice that you have many pauses or periods of silence you could highlight that section and put the letter P as the code for pauses(See Appendix B).I made up the codes by taking the first letter of the word of the actions I was doing. Whatever letters and acronyms that you chose for the coding of your essay are completely up to you. Last but not least, you must analyze the patterns that you find and use them to make improvements in your everyday writing. Make sure that you really dig deep and that you go past the surface when analyzing your transcripts. If you cant say anything but there was a lot of silence, take it a step further and try to figure out what those silent periods actually mean. Findings In the thirty minute time period that was spent writing my paper, there were many patterns that I discovered. The presence of slow R&B music acted as a catalyst to the invention of new ideas. Every time my train of thought was lost or the creative juices stopped flowing the music would help to get me back on track. Also, taking a break to sing to a song that I enjoyed helped to produce new ideas. After writing each paragraph I checked to see if there were at least 5 sentences that were written. I stopped to see that I had 5 sentences per paragraph because it was a force of habit that I had learned throughout my life. I feel like this is not a good habit to maintain because I am focused on fulfilling that 5 sentence minimum instead of worrying about the content of the

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sentence. . In reference to my experiment, the silent moments that I had were thinking periods. That silence helped me to regroup my thoughts together again. Even the simplest things can have a deeper, underlying meaning. It was important for me to find the hidden meaning for this because it would help me to determine what would work the best for me as a writer. One of my most important findings was that I was dependent on sugary substances in order to help me write. A lot of space fillers such as uhhmm and ok were used before a period of frustration would come. Unlike the silent periods, the space fillers were moments were I was completely lost and had no idea what to say. Usually the space fillers would come a couple minutes after I had stopped singing. After the first fifteen minutes of writing without soda, a drastic change was noticed. When I began to drink the soda a lot of the space fillers that were used previously were eliminated. I believe this was due to the fact that caffeine tends to generate quick bursts of energy throughout the body. The location that I chose for my experiment had an effect on my writing also. I chose to write my essay on the desk that was in my dorm because it helped me to be able to have a stable place to write. I could also control the amount of noise that was happening in my background at my desk. Had I have chosen to write sitting on my bed I would still be able to control the amount of noise in my background, but I would not have been able to write productively because my body automatically associates the bed with me going to sleep. As stated in my introduction, the results that I found can be useful to students just like me who had a problem with finding out what works best for them when writing. Some things that I could have altered in order to make my research better is varying the amount of time that I wrote in, writing in settings other than my room to see

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if I get different results, and I could have varied the amount of noise that I was subjected to.

time spent
space fillers describing the writing doubting myself asking questions/answers correcting grammar searching for words repetition rereading revise

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Works Cited

Perl, Sondra. "The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers." Research in the Teaching of English.Writing About Writing: A College Reader.Boston.Bedford/St.Martins. 2011. 317-336. Print Goodman, Allegra. Calming the Inner Critic and Getting to Work. Writing About Writing: A College Reader.Boston.Bedford/St.Martins. 2011.308-309.Print

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Appendix A (Essay) Creative, ambitious, risk-taking, and a person who draws from their past experiences in order to add flavor to their writing are some things that describe me as writer. Writing is something that Ive been taught throughout school, but the rules that are set for writing do not always agree with the ideas that I am trying to convey to my audience. With the knowledge that writing and grammar rules are only there to be used as a set of guidelines for creative writing, I often stray off of the strict step by step process that many writers tend to adhere to. This essay has been created in hopes of being able to come as close as possible to frame who I am as writer. Recently, in my ENC 1101 class, I had the pleasure of reading an article by a woman named Allegra Goodman. Within Goodmans article she discussed that you should never let your inner critic take over you when you are writing. If you let your inner critic take over you then, it will ultimately put you in a state of depression and it will cause your creative flow to come to a complete halt. Another key point that Allegra made was that writers should not compare themselves to the people that have written great works centuries ago because there was different writing techniques back then. Also, at the end of the day, theyre dead people who should not be able to dictate your life. With this being said, this is how I found out what type of writer I am. I can really relate with Goodman because she seemed to be a free flowing and outgoing person just like I am. Writing should be something that is enjoyable and a way of expressing your emotions without being criticized harshly. In reality, it is not this way because teachers put some much emphasis on the analytical parts of writing, such as grammar, punctuation, word count, and your ability to properly answer a prompt.

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There are many signature elements that you can find in my writing. The most prominent ones are the use of asking questions to introduce the main topic of the essay I am writing and I also like to use quotes from songs that I listen to and somehow relate them to the topic of my essay. From my past experiences with FCAT and writing assignments in my other English classes, I have been rewarded for using these tactics so I continue to make sure that I consistently use these devices. Other key traits of my writing, which I see as a negative trait, are the fact that Im not sure when to cut off an idea and to start a new one. Therefore, there tends to be a lot of run on sentences in my essay or you will see a very long sentence with 3 or 4 commas within it. Personality plays a huge part in my writing as well. I have a lot of friends that are very analytical and systematic people who follow almost every rule when they are writing. Some many times have I been asked by my friends to review writing tasks as simple as writing a letter to their parents because they are trapped in the world of grammar and rules of writing. I feel like the person that I have grown to be helps to give my writing colorfulness and a sense of comfort ability that anyone can relate to. Without my personality I would be a slave to writing and the whole writing process would be dim, gray, and life less. In summation, who I am as a writer comes from every aspect of my life. Whether it is from how my parents raised me, or If its from how my teachers have molded my writing, I feel like everything comes together in the end to make a wonderful product. As I have stated in one of the past classes in ENC 1101, I think if writing as going through the different phases of life. From the time of birth (the creation of a new idea) to the awkward teenage stages, there will be struggle and tribulation, but there is nothing better

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than the adult you where you find out exactly who you are and you are completely comfortable with it.

Appendix B (Codes) U=Ums/ Space fillers RR=Rereading Sn=Snacking Q=Asking questions BR=Breaks Ed =Correcting grammar/ editing S=Silence WL=Writing out loud WS=Silently writing DW=Describing the writing you are doing D=Distractions En=Encouraging

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R=Revise AQ=Asking then answering questions Dc=Discovery Rv=Reviewing materials Se=Searching for a word or phrase Sg=Singing P=Pause DB=Doubting myself RP= Repetition C= Counting DC=Dancing OT=Off topic