Learning From Mistakes
CUPID Studio is a workshop course that provides intensive practice in rhetorical strategies, project management, audience assessment, and research about editing, publishing, writing, and visual rhetoric and design. In addition to working on resumes and portfolios and a half-semester long client project, students are required to write one post for the Center for Undergraduate Publishing and Design (CUPID) blog. The short piece is expected to discuss the client project to give prospective students, people in the department, and members of the Elon community an idea of what is done in the studio. This semester, my client project was a newsletter for the American Studies program. While working on the project, my group members and I encountered some communication challenges with our client, and I chose to discuss them in my blog post.
Writing this blog post entailed the consciously referencing three of the five canons and weaving considerations of elements of the rhetorical triangle into the writing process. In the early stages of inventio, or invention, I strongly considered the blog post’s purpose and intended audience. Though the assignment only specifies writing “about” the client project, the actual purpose of the post is to analyze the process of working on the process, identifying any challenges or shortcomings and the lessons learned from addressing those challenges. The blog’s audience limited the honesty in which I could identify those challenges. Though the intended audience is specified as prospective students, people in the English department, and members of the Elon community, because the blog is posted online, anyone could read it. With that in mind, I had to be very careful about what I said and how I said it while I developed and refined the piece.
In dispositio, or the arrangement stage, I recognized that, considering the context of the piece, I needed to literally lay out the details of my situation. A good portion of my discussion was focused on a situation I experienced in the past and the situation I was experiencing when I wrote the piece; without explaining these situations to the audience, they wouldn't have been able to understand where my analysis was rooted. The context of the piece limited how much explanation I could give, but I still made a point to explain the experiences so my analysis would be better received. I chose to finish the post with a list of three lessons to not only leave the audience with key take-a-ways that they could potentially learn from but to also show that I had done enough personal analysis to come away with those three key points.
While creating and arranging the argument I was making through my blog post, I had to address the elocutio, or style. Because of my standing as a student, my role as a speaker was limited. Although being rude or condescending should always be avoided, I had to be especially careful with my tone and be respectful, regardless of the frustrations I had and the way I would have naturally framed my argument had I not been restricted in any way.
Although, eventually, I believe I came to the right conclusions when writing the post, with regard to the tone specifically, my professor prompted my carefulness after reading my first draft. I tried to be cognizant and try to not write anything offensive, but I still needed to reframe the piece in terms of learning, rather than my client’s shortcomings. After revising the first draft, the piece was a mature analysis of the situation and focused on the need to learn from one’s mistakes. Reflecting and analyzing have been a way of learning throughout the course of my studies in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and I think this piece reflects that.