Monday, September 21, 2009

Thinking about Reading and Writing

When I think about reading and writing, I feel like everyone has their own way of organizing they way they think about reading and writing. When I read something, the first decision I make about how I will organize my thinking is they type of reading I am doing, is it for pleasure or for class?; what genre is it?; do I need to take notes?; should I be referring to my class notes?. If the reading is more for pleasure in the form of a novel, I start a sort of “mental bank” for that book where I put character descriptions, setting information, story plot, and clues I think may be important for later in the story.

When I read something that is more like a text book, I pay more attention to the way the book is organized, and am sure to read sub-titles within the chapter to help me focus on the important parts of a paragraph. I usually highlight in books, even though I recently found out that highlighting is not a preferred way to actively read, I find it useful for myself. I don’t necessarily use highlighting to look back on later, but more as a focus point for when I am actually reading, so I can look at the information more easily. Sometimes I take separate notes, but usually if I want to comment on the text I just write directly in the book next to the item I want to comment on. Sticky notes can also be a good method if I don’t want writing in my book, but I often just use them as place markers for things I want to look back at later and have easy access to.

I feel like writing is an area that many people think about and approach in very different ways. When I start out writing something, I usually begin by writing out any guidelines or prompts I have for the writing at the top of the page. By doing this, I can read and re-read anything that may give me guidance as I write. I like to be able to refer back to this so that I can focus what it is that I write while I am doing it, or if I get blocked. I also usually just let myself write and try to organize as best I can the first time I write. Then I go back, re-read and re-organize my writing so that it makes sense, or elaborate on some of the ideas that I may have introduced but not explained adequately. I really like to be able to just write everything as it comes to my mind and worry about it later.

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