Final Paper: Describing Your Writing Process in an Extended Metaphor

Below is the prompt for the final paper of the semester. A comprehensive final exam should give you an opportunity to show what you have learned. Since this is a writing course, you should have learned, or at least reinforced what you already knew, about how to be a successful writer. This paper is tantamount to a final exam.

Prompt: While everyone goes through the same general phases or stages in producing a written product, we don't necessarily prefer to do them in the same order, at the same rate, using the same equipment or processes, or with the same results. Writing is a uniquely individual act. Think about the writing that you have done this semester and in the past. Your assignment is to write an essay of approximately 500-600 words (about two pages in length) in which you describe your writing process. In the paper, you will describe your process by analogy or in an extended metaphor, comparing it to some other process with which you are closely familiar.

Planning the paper: You might first want to sketch out your typical writing process in a concrete way, before comparing it to another process metaphorically. Consider what you do before you start writing, how you get started, what writing tools or implements you prefer to use, how or where you prefer to write. Consider those things that you have difficulty with in your writing and those things that you have mastered. How do you bring a writing project from conception to fruition, from idea to finished product? Can you outline your typical process? (Of course, you can!)

Once you have thought your process through and sketched it out in tangible form, what might you compare it to? As some of my many activities, I sail, garden, ski, cook, drum, coach and play fastpitch softball, do housework, and do home improvement projects. I can find analogies for my writing process with nearly any of these other processes I commonly engage in. There is a measure of difficulty in all of these activities, a need for specific tools, a process to follow, a need for specialized knowledge, and great satisfaction at achieveing success in each endeavor. Isn't all of that true of the writing process as well?

As I compare one of my common tasks or recreational activities to my writing process, the writing process takes on characteristics of the activity, and the activity becomes the writing process. This is the point that Johnson and Lakoff make in their essay about how we use metaphor to understand and impose order on our notion of reality, how, in essence, metaphor shapes our reality.

So, how do I prepare my boat and sails and other equipment for an afternoon of sailing? Isn't this how I plan a writing project? What major equipment and lesser tools will I need to complete my home repair project? Is the hammer a pen? Are nails my commas? What strategies will I use in response to a barrage of hits the opposing team makes, upping their score against us in the final innings? How will I prepare my team for victory and how will I get the winning run across the plate?

Okay, so you get the picture. Is your writing process a painting? A choral performance? A long trip? A boxing match? A war? A sentence to hell? What is it?

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