Dear Portfolio readers,

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love to write. Since I was in elementary school I’ve been telling stories – writing fiction. When I signed up for UWP 1, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know what genre we would be exploring – whether it would be fiction, nonfiction, expository, or persuasive. But I kept an open mind, keen on the idea of learning and improving my writing.

If you were to ask me what ‘good writing’ was before I took this class, I would have given a very narrow minded answer – an answer you would find in a dictionary. I would have said good writing is writing that has good sentence structure and interesting content. Sentences that flow and deliver a clear, cohesive theme. To be completely honest though, I didn’t know how to define good writing because I was only given the standard definition. However, since taking UWP 1 my perspective has changed. I learned that good writing is so much more than we’ve been trained to think and it can apply to virtually any genre.

The biggest revelation I had in UWP 1 came after reading Lamott’s article on ‘Shitty First Drafts’. I learned that they’re not only acceptable, but encouraged. This was an entirely new concept for me. As a writer, I had always thought that the first draft needed to be nearly perfect, give or take a few grammatical errors. It needed to be a draft that didn’t need much revision, just some ‘touching up’. However, this concept of composing a shitty first draft opened my eyes to an entirely new approach to writing, which has helped me in my career ever since.

The first assignment I chose to include was the literacy development narrative because I believe it challenged me in a way no other writing assignment had before. It required me to go from something I was completely dissatisfied with, to something I couldn’t be more proud of – all through a series of drafts and revisions. When I wrote my first draft, I couldn’t have been more displeased with it. I remember reading it in disgust and thinking there was no way I could turn this in for a grade. However, after coming back to it, new ideas started jumping out at me; ideas that weren’t there the first time around. These ideas, in conjunction with my peers’ suggestions, made my second and final drafts exponentially better.

As for my research paper, I completely scrapped my first draft and rewrote the entire thing the second time around. But this is not to say that the first draft was a waste of time. I already had many ideas and research under my belt, but this time I was able to write the second draft in a way that made sense to me, and flowed much easier.

So to answer the above question, what is ‘good writing’? , I would say writing that has potential. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around, in fact, the worse – the better. It just has to be good enough to provoke a thoughtful response that improves the writing in a way that couldn’t have been done had it been written ‘good’ enough the first time around. The first drafts of both assignments I included stimulated new ideas, ideas that were able to make my second and final drafts so much better than a ‘good’ first draft. After writing these two assignments, I’ve proven to myself that good writing can come from a ‘shitty first draft’ despite what I originally thought.  

Thank you for reading!


Samantha Stratman