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In his essay, “The Importance of Writing Badly,” Bruce Ballenger encourages students to write freely and to not worry about finding the “perfect way of saying it.” I feel by saying this he means to not worry about what you’re writing and it may not necessarily be perfect, but that you write what you are thinking and continue writing even if it’s bad or may not make sense. He means to put all your thoughts down on paper and start from there.
Ballenger gives his students permission to write badly. He expresses that “when the writing stops, so does the thinking.” He also states that he is far more interested in encouraging thinking than error-free sentences and concise, clear writing. Do I agree with Bruce Ballenger? I feel that I absolutely agree with him. If you would have asked me in High School if I agreed, I would have said no. My English teacher in High School was much like the teacher Ballenger describes in this essay as Mrs.
O’Neill. Every paper we had to write had nothing but red pen marks correcting bad sentences.
Or as Ballenger put it “some high priest of good grammar whose angry scribbling occupied the margins of our papers.” She was much more critical of our grammar and punctuation then what we were writing. This was very discouraging to me and a lot of my fellow classmates. I then became more critical of myself as a writer and how I was writing and not what I was writing.
I was paying more attention to other details instead of what I was thinking about writing, which ended up making it very stressful to write. So by the end of my English class, I was fairly decent with grammar. In fact friends and family of mine occasionally have asked me to proof read papers of theirs, and I find myself doing nothing but fixing grammar issues instead of actually reading the paper for the story it is. I agree with Ballenger when he says that clear writing matters and should be demanded, but that it should not be the first thing important when you start writing a paper. You can always go back and fix grammar and punctuation issues, but you sometimes may not get your thoughts or ideas back that you were thinking of to be able to express what you wanted to write after lifting the pen from the paper. Before reading the text, just looking at the title I thought this was just going to be about writing bad and not worrying about what you are writing. And really it is, but the text was more than that and made me realize that writing isn’t about how you write; it is more about what you write about. It’s about getting to what you are writing about and the process it takes to get there. More than just writing words down and making sure you use the words correctly. It’s about expressing what you are really thinking about and writing down your thoughts to begin with. I will take Ballenger’s advice because I feel I will have more to say after free writing and brainstorming my topics and by doing that I will have more effective essays. Ballenger ends this essay with “And what matters in this journey-at least initially-is not what kind of car you’re driving, but where you end up.” I think what Ballenger means by this is that it doesn’t matter how perfect you write. What matters is that you get the ideas you have and the point you are trying to make across in your writing. And in the end having your thoughts down, you will write the paper you are trying to write even if that means that the writing you initially write is not perfect.
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