Writing Project 1: Writing History

Who am I as a writer? 4-5 pages

TASK: Who are you as a writer? What makes a writer a writer? We all belong to multiple discourse communities in which we are required to compose and write to a specific audience. We chat over IM and write in a classroom; we write in Spanish and we write in English; we text and we write emails; we speak in the language of our home communities and in the language of the university. We are constantly learning how to write in new communities, by new people, for different purposes, and with different tools or objects. The purpose of your first major writing project is to use your own history of your engagement with writing to help you explore your own writing identity. If you have a fraught relationship with writing (as many people do), consider why writing has a tainted memory. Throughout this assignment, you should become more critically aware of the challenges and potentials of writing in our multiple discourses so that we may respect and hone the skills necessary to compose in different discursive communities.

Keeping in mind our theme on multimodal communication, consider what modes of communication you use and how your writing within those mediums is different than other forms. (i.e. crafting a tweet verses filling out a tax form)

ORGANIZING QUESTION: What does the history of my engagement with writing say about my identity as an author/writer? Who am I as a writer?


  • To deepen an awareness of our identities as writers
  • Connect personal experiences or observations to a larger idea of authorship
  • Identify, develop, describe, and discuss a concept(s)
  • Practice planning, drafting, and revising
  • Organize and develop your own ideas about a topic
  • Evaluate evidence and make decisions about how best to present it
  • Gain experience in making choices for effective communication in a specific situation

PART I (pre-writing):

Brainstorm and answer the following questions:

  • Who taught you how to write?
  • How do you write inside school and outside of school?
  • Describe your first memory of learning how to write.
  • Who was your favorite writing teacher? Most hated?
  • How has writing impacted your life thus far and how do you foresee it impacting your future?
  • Is writing your friend or foe?
  • What discourse communities do you write in? (i.e. friends, grandparents, school, work, etc.)
  • Where do you write and for whom do you write?

PART II (writing-writing): Using the answers to the questions in Part I, develop your own insights about your writer identity and craft a narrative history based upon your relationship to writing and what it means for you.


Option 1: Write a memoir that focuses on specific experiences of your history and discusses why and how these experiences are meaningful or you. If you choose this option, you will probably focus mostly on your experiences and reflections about these experiences, and you might also use a more conventional narrative as you tell this personal story—something with a beginning, middle, and end. While you may build upon earlier assignments, this piece should be significantly different from anything you’ve already written as you reframe your experience, add more reflection, and maybe even remember differently from different perspectives.

Option 2: Write a mixed-genre or multimodal essay. This may blend creative and analytical forms that bring together different types of writing or different forms in order to express an idea. If you choose this option, you can piece together an essay from things you’ve already written in short assignments, but you should also frame these fragments with a narrative that both describes your concept and how these pieces fit into this essay. While writing an essay in this form can be innovative and effective, you also want the reader to get your point. You can include memoir, analysis, poetry, philosophy and also engage with different writing mediums. If you choose this option, I highly recommend that you speak with me (whether in person or over email) to ensure that your plan meets the assignment’s requirements.

Portfolio and Writer’s Memo: You will complete the project in the form of a well-organized portfolio, which will include:

  • A Writer’s Memo
  • All planning, brainstorming, and research notes or worksheets (clipped together)
  • All early drafts of your project (clipped together)
  • All feedback you received, from me and your peers
  • The final 4-5 page polished draft of your project

The Writer’s Memo serves as a cover sheet to your project. In the memo, you should describe your purpose and strategy in writing this project, and ask any questions about the writing that you may have yourself. Also you should ask yourself, “What did I learn throughout this process of writing?” This is your opportunity to provide some context for the writing but also a chance to ask your reader directly about the effectiveness of the piece.

Successful projects will:

  • Develop an insight or series of insights about their identity as a writer/author
  • Help your audience understand these insights through examples, story-telling, and argumentation (show, don’t tell!)
  • Practice effective description/narration to convey the concept of self as writer

Due Dates: Draft 1 due: February 7 for in class peer-review exchange Peer Review: February 10 Draft 2 due: February 12 (I will return your drafts to you during conferences.) Portfolio due: February 19

Note: Many of the ideas crafted in this assignment are borrowed from Kate Vieira’s English 481, Fall 2011 course at the University of Illinois with permission.

See Writing Project 2.