Writing is personal; everyone’s writing has strengths and areas needing improvement. If we keep a record of our successes, then we have a place to turn when we feel discouraged and need a boost. It is a fact that we remember negative feedback more than positive and so it is important to capture the positive comments we receive and keep them on our radar screen. Focusing only on areas in need of improvement can be demoralizing and leave us with a distorted view of our writing. If we work very hard on a paper, receive some negative comments and a grade of 75%, we are apt to forget that our score of 75% indicates that the vast majority of our work was spot-on. Of course, we do want to learn from our mistakes, but we also need to take care less we obsess over them to the point that we forget about our strengths.
One way to keep up our morale and improve our writing is to compile a summary of feedback on all of our writing projects in a single place. In the example below, the title of the summary file is “Better to Best” and consists of two sections, “Encouraging Comments” and “Getting Better.” Although most of the information we capture will come directly from professor feedback on our work, it is also helpful to include some of our own notes. In this regard, see “reminder” under the essay on “Aristotle’s Four Cases” in the “Encouraging Feedback” section below. Note as well the links included in the “Better to Best” section. Including them makes it easy for us to go directly to the writing points we wish to review and so more likely that we will take the time to do so.