Think. Think. Think. Over the course of the semester, especially after Dr. Heinritz encouraged it on my restaurant review, I realized that this mantra was my key to successful writing. On the other hand, while the phrase was helpful and encouraging, it also put me in a deep place of over-thinking perfectionism throughout the quarter. When I would sit down to write a reading response, I would be thinking of everything I wanted to put into it at once. For my restaurant review I was trying to think about how to capture the true essence of the restaurant in a thousand words, while providing an informative analysis about by experience. The phrase think think think became a huge point of contention in my mind. The more I thought the more confused I got, and therefore, the more frustrated. However, I quickly realized that I was thinking about it the wrong way (pun intended).
The breakthrough to my frustration was that I was thinking too much too soon. I quickly realized between the drafts of my memoir that I was thinking too fast. I learned that to remedy being overwhelmed in thought, all I had to do was slow down, jot down a list of things I wanted to say and then ruminate over them for a while. After taking the time to let all of my thoughts digest, I could sit down and orchestrate the piece in a more cohesive and meaningful way.
One of the things that pushed my revision and cohesion along was definitely our workshops. Having nine other points of view looking at my work assured me of a fresh take on my writing. Class members often picked up on some awkward phrasing, or when I put too many ideas in too little space on the page, or most importantly offered a direction to take my piece for my next revision. The time that it really got confusing for me, after workshop, was when opposing views were offered and I didn’t know which way to go. For me, deciding what to write about was easy: something that resonated with me in the reading, or for the memoir for example, a story that had emotional depth in context of food and travel. The challenge came when deciding where to take the ideas I felt so passionately about, especially in revision. When there was mixed opinions, it was also then that I remembered the importance of thinking. I would step back from the work and reflect on what I had originally felt or intended when I wrote the piece. I would conceptualize what I wanted people to learn from the piece and then go about revising to achieve that. This worked better because I was less worried about pleasing my readers, than making them understand what I, as a writer, wanted them to know.
Writing for this course helped me to define my voice and more importantly taught me that expressing my voice is valuable. It’s so easy to lean on other peoples’ experiences, but it is incredibly more fun and informative to experience these kinds of things for yourself! By writing, workshopping and then revising my work, I was aloud the space to try it my own way, here feedback and then hone in on what was really important. I learned that I need to mull things over first, before getting overwhelmed and to write honestly, but not offensively about things that I really feel passionate about. This class taught me more than food but it taught me the joy of tourism, the excitement of new, and the wisdom that comes with experience. I feel as though my writing improved greatly throughout the class, and that the class imbued in me important life skills and lessons to carry with me from campus back home and abroad. I learned a lot about how I see emotional situations and the important relationship that food has in our everyday lives. It also made me much more conscious about what I eat and that thinking is important, but perfectionism is overwhelming. I am so appreciative of the thoughtful classmates and lessons I had, and the creation of the (not overwhelmingly) place for me to stretch my life legs and grow: as a writer, as a tourist and as a thinker of the world.