Dear PTW Reviewers,
Here is my reflective response to your questions. I’ve grouped them into thematic headings.
Starting the PTW Program
I became a Professional and Technical Writing major in Spring 2020.
I chose this major because writing is a natural strength for me, and I needed a career that would let me work from home so I don’t have to worry about medical flare-ups.
I’ve been writing fantasy adventures and typical school projects for most of my life. Beyond that, I also took classes alongside my biology degree at the UA’s main campus. We had a technical writing option for English Composition II, Fundamentals of Journalism, and an Agricultural Communications minor.
Through this minor, I also took the base Agricultural Communications, which was like a PR course. Then there was Graphic Design, Agricultural Reporting and Feature Writing, and Electronic Communications, which was like a social media campaign and web design combo.
While taking these courses, I also started dabbling in science and nature blogging.
Most Important and Most Memorable
I most value my core Editing class. It was the level up I needed for my writing. Those principals don’t get covered in school, and I’ve found that even though I got compliments for my writing, I actually had many bad habits but couldn’t quite touch what they were. I knew they were there though.
Editing taught me the self-awareness to identify my issues and the strategies to deal with those and anything I develop in the future. It was a back door to critical thinking. Once you reach a certain level of competency, you know when to ask questions, which questions to ask, when to listen, and when to experiment.
The Grant Writing course stood out because of how many hours it took, all the unfamiliar steps, working with an actual client, and that grant writing fit in with what I was considering for a career. It was actual professional writing.
With Software Document Writing, I wrote an ebook and learn the Scrivener program. I started putting it together and could see how Scrivener could serve professional writers. I want to complete it and market it.
The Writing Process
I look at the needs of the situation afresh and tailor myself what’s needed. Mostly, I would either free write and end up with a first draft that I moderately ended as I went, or I would look at the criteria I need to fill, plug in notes under the corresponding section, and convert my notes into sentences and paragraphs. And that was enough to impress.
PTW cured those habits. Nonfiction Writing required thought into narrative structure and techniques. Editing had me breaking down sentences and pieces in ways English classes never did, and those dissections made me more aware of what is happening in each statement I write and how to tackle projects in layers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Many people have told me about how mystified they are how I can write the way I speak. Maybe this is something that’s so ingrained in me that I could easily respond with, “If you don’t write like you speak, what are you writing?”
When I work with classmates or friends, I’m mystified that they can’t express more analysis and ponderings. I’m in a constant state of observation and analysis. At some point, I realized I should see analysis as a strength.
My weakness is my roundabout thinking or wordiness. Yet, I think this problem can still plague me. The Editing course gave me what I needed to break that tendency. If I’m having a bad day or working late, those habits come back. I even feel “off” while writing and slowly get suspicious.
Because I minored in Agricultural Communications with my previous degree, I knew some web design, WordPress, social media (for marketing), graphic design software, and digital photography.
While I had used Google Docs before, I used it moderately for several PTW courses and extensively for Editing for Publication and Advanced Editing. It’s convenient for collaboration.
Other than that, Software Document Writing taught me most of my new technology skills. I had to learn to use word processors better for instruction graphics. I created a video tutorial with video software, voice recording, and captioning. For the final project, I used help authoring software.
Feedback to the PTW Program
This is a practical program for different types of professional writing. I finally took a creative nonfiction writing course, editing, grant writing, publishing, and document design. I dabbled in the unfamiliar with usability testing and software document writing courses. I can leave this program with my academic curiosities sated.
My core Technical Writing course had us edit one brief sentence one week, read a few short paragraphs another week. I’m baffled how that course existed. It made me thankful that I took a technical writing course 10 years earlier. My Comp II course had memos, business letters, proposals, and instructions—a survey of technical writing.
Persuasive Writing and Theory of Rhetoric were traditional English-type classes but used news articles instead of literature. Compared to copywriting or public relations, the professional persuasive writing, I don’t know why this course is structured the way it is for a program called Professional and Technical Writing.
I’ve been freelancing, and I’ll increase that. Around the same time I enrolled in UALR, I found American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), which teaches copywriting and networks with copywriters. I love copywriting most of the professional writing, and both that and PTW have complemented each other greatly.
Editing in Publication and Grant Writing helped with interacting with authors as an editor or with a client as a writer, so that’s business skills right there. Editing built my core confidence as a writer and an editor. And I’ve built confidence that I can expand into project types with no problem because I already have.