Why You Did This Exercise

In reading all of your responses so far, it seems that almost all of you chose very different routes to travel from one coast to the other (I used Seattle and Albany to increase the variety of responses and I used to live in both places for extended periods of time and have traveled these routes several times over). There was also some consensus on choosing to travel the larger perimeter (of the west coast, southern coast, east coast) of the country (I-5 to I-10 to I-95) or taking the shortest, quickest, and likely most boring route across the northern part of the U.S. (I-90/I-94).

With all of that, it still doesn’t address the point of why I assigned this in the first place. It seems like most of you figured it out all the same and I always like doing this before the next module, which will address the merits and downfalls of a style/format of writing that most of you are likely familar with and have used in your prior education…the Five Paragraph Essay.

This brings us to why you were busy looking at a map of the U.S. in a writing course. Planning out your writing is important, just like traveling, but not all of you needed to do that and I will never require it of you. Some of you seemed content to simply get in the car and begin the trip. Some of you seemed like you would pack countless AAA brochures and maps, double check that your GPS was working, call ahead to all the stops you would be making and generally be overprepared. Either way is fine, but there’s always a journey to be had that just happens and this is similar to writing in general. As the cliche goes, the best laid plans often go awry. Sometimes the result is disastrous (maybe your car broke down on this metaphorical journey much as you get stuck in your paper). Sometimes you find what you were looking for all along without knowing it (maybe your trip takes on a life of its own much as your paper can). No matter the case, there’s no one certain way to write an essay, much as there’s no certain way to travel across the U.S. and not all of you would take the same way/routes.

So, without beating a metaphor to death, I am here to guide all of you along your journey in writing however that may happen, but I do not believe that there is a certain way one must go or that you even have to plan your route ahead of time. I am looking forward to seeing you all trying to get from Seattle to Albany in your own way and relative time (obviously we need to adhere to a deadline/due dates unlike the trip), but I am excited to know that not all of the writing will be the same. This exercise will hopefully help you as we enter the next module which, again, will tackle a more formulaic approach to writing that the great majority of you have used in your prior education.