Now to the fun part! I genuinely love writing. And I had much more fun this time around than last time around; I learned a lot from my last independent project about how to draft effectively. What really helped me this time was outlining and writing in chunks. Because of the structure of this paper, I was able to outline one section and then immediately after writing it. As someone with ADHD, not only did this help me focus on particular parts of this paper, but it kept my attention as I was able to alternate tasks. I think this writing method is a lot more effective for me. Using Scrivener also made my research, note-taking, outlining, and eventual writing process so much easier. I am so thankful for being introduced to this platform (shoutout to Dr. AK Wright!) The more work I do, the more I learn about myself and how I can succeed in my academics and beyond. Overall, bouncing between outlining and drafting, being able to separate my sections into different documents and compile them together, and focusing on the organization of the paper prior to even outlining was a really effective way for me to work.
I really enjoy seeing work come together and to be honest, I am very proud of how I've improved from my last project to this one. To me at least, it's a pretty big difference. I was a lot more open to my project evolving over time and it allowed me to come to a different conclusion than I originally planned to reach. I was really engaged in thinking about how I could work in an interdisciplinary way to best represent my subject matter. But now more on the drafting process! I am getting a lot more used to accepting that editing will be a long and arduous process, and that first drafts are going to be inherently flawed. It's okay to just get words onto paper and fix it later. This was especially important since I wrote the piece in chunks which created the risk of becoming repetitive.
As a student, it's also very easy to get into the habit of writing and just turning it in, which is a hard habit to break! But I really cared about this process. I went over my own work multiple times in addition to getting input from my mentor for the project, Dr. Layla Brown, and others to whom I am exceptionally thankful (shout to Asia Potts, Dr. Régine Jean-Charles, and Amber Hayward!). Getting feedback on your work is so difficult but so important no matter what level or stage of your career/academic journey you're in. I'm glad I'm learning that skill early! Learning that you can reject suggestions has been new as well. Of course, almost all of the feedback I've received has been immensely helpful. But others' input shouldn't be the end all be all of my paper. Finally, one thing that was new was continuing the research process along the way for the entire process. Even after outlining, I found that I wanted more background to support my points. But once again, I've really learned that eventually, you have to put things down. Drafting has to stop! And there will be a final product. That final product, of course, could always be improved upon. But papers have deadlines and projects end. You can't draft and edit forever!
I've also learned how much what you read affects you're writing. Both my major and my minors are in interdisciplinary fields, so I've been exposed to a wealth of types of writing across various fields in school. I've realized that the classes I take and what I have read on my co-ops have greatly influenced how I write. For example, international affairs theory and transit research are typically written in a rather different way than Africana Studies theory. I became used to a structure that goes from the background, tothe literature review, to the analysis/data section, to the discussion, and to the conclusion. When Asia read my paper, she noted that I organized it in a rather different way than English/Africana Studies papers are typically written, especially in regards to separating out the discussion portion. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing! Over time, I hope that I can adjust my writing style and structure for the fields I am writing in and the purposes of my paper. What makes sense to me makes sense to me, but it will always be a balancing act between my own thought process and what the audience will need. I think combining what I've learned from readings in various fields will make me a much stronger writer and has done that so far. I'm very happy with the combination of fields I studied in my undergraduate career and I'm glad I got to combine so many things together! The exploratory nature of that has been exciting.
After drafting, editing was easier than I expected. The paper is ultimately longer than I anticipated at twenty-four pages. If I had the time and resources it'd probably be a loooot longer. I have a lot to say! However learning how to edit longer and longer papers in chunks and overtime will be useful for graduate school. More urgently, it will be useful for my senior capstone in the spring semester! The editing process really makes a paper come together. It's more than just grammar – it can really impact the point you're trying to get across. So the more I do it, hopefully, the better I get at it, and the more familiar I become with my voice when I'm writing.
I'm very excited to share my final paper! This project has had twists and turns but has been so, so, so very rewarding. Again, I feel like I grew a lot. Looking back at my last Drafting and Editing post, my voice has a lot more optimism in it than I did then. I'm proud of who I've become as a Black feminist student. Thank you for joining me on this journey! And most importantly, thank you to those who helped me along the way. This has been an amazing way to transition into my senior year of college (scary! and exciting!). I can't wait to see where my research goes next and I hope that one day I can continue to expand on this paper!