University Writing Center Blog

Posted on November 26th, 2019 in Creative Writing, Opportunity, Thematics, Writing Strategies by University Writing Center

Written by: Brandi W.

As Thanksgiving approaches and many of us look at going home for a well-deserved (and needed!) break, it can often feel like returning to a different planet. College—clubs, classes, and conversations—can seem so disconnected from what is going on at home. However, the people and experiences there actually influence college life and are potential wells from which we can draw to inform our different assignments and conversations at IUPUI.

Even with the promise of turkey, fantastic sides, and the Macy’s Day Parade, there can be some tension about returning home to difficult conversations, a pestering of questions, or simply a starkly different environment than during the rest of the semester. However, this old/new environment of home can actually be a huge benefit to our writing at school. Whether it is brainstorming for an assignment, having a conversation with a professor over a class topic, or constructing a writing process, drawing from funds of knowledge that have shaped who we are (our family, home environment, past jobs, etc.) provides a personal connection to projects and springboards to writing that might otherwise become stale or stagnant. These influences shape our unique perspectives into the issues we write about or the topics we discuss.

Growing up in a family with eight children taught me that even people who have many similar experiences can form radically different opinions on any given matter. While this can cause some tension when we get together (like at Thanksgiving dinner), these moments also provide me with the experience of hearing multiple perspectives and incorporating them into my response—something vital for writing projects, from research to poetry.  

For many years, I took and taught piano lessons, and I have often found this well of experience influencing my writing, even down to my writing process. When I first began writing, I thought that meant sitting down at the computer and typing until I reached the word count. I did not realize that the process took multiple layers to be truly effective. The comparison that helps me most is thinking about the various parts of the process as belonging to the melody (the steps we typically think of as belonging to the writing process like research and editing) and the harmony (other steps that are just as important but not always apparent, such as a Writing Center appointment or taking a break for a snack). Each part is unique but vital to create a rich piece. Utilizing my past experience with piano to help shape my thinking allowed me to create a functional writing process.

This potential well is sometimes referred to as “funds of knowledge,” and is wealth built up over years of unique experiences that cannot (and should not) be ignored or eliminated. Rather than viewing projects as separate from personal interests or experiences, thinking about the knowledge already built up from those same memories and skills provides roots for an assignment and can add fuel to writing that might otherwise feel surface level. As we spend time with family, friends, food, and fun over the holidays, what experiences can we remember to bring back to support our writing?