Read over the Narrative Essay Assignment first, then watch the video I posted about looping as a form of brainstorming. Finally, look over my example. Remember, when you are finished with your looping free write, make sure to go back and circle or highlight any ideas that you think you want to use in your narrative essay.

When you have completed this assignment, please post two to three in-depth paragraphs discussing two things: a) how was this experience of trying out the looping free-write exercise? Did it useful for you? If so, why and how? Was it challenging for you? If so, why and how? b) what potential topic for your narrative essay did you come up with from this writing activity, and how might you expand on your topic?


Basics of Looping: write for about five minutes on a topic. This is a free write—don’t worry about spelling, making sense—just get words on paper (even if they are ‘I don’t know’ over and over. Something will eventually come to you—just keep your pen moving!)Next you draw a line under what you wrote. Pull a word or a sentence or a phrase from what you just wrote, and you re-write it under the line. Write for another five minutes or so on that phrase. Then, draw a line under what you just wrote, and pull another word, phrase or sentence from what you just wrote and then re-write it under your second line. Now free write off of that–one more time!

To provide an example, I just did the looping exercise myself, with the same writing prompt as your first essay. Here it is (I only typed mine because it is easier to show you that way—you can do yours in your response journal, if that is better for your writing process):

Finding out out I was pregnant with my daughter at age 19. I was at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, sleeping in the back of my friend’s car. I felt sick. The liquor in my belly felt disgusting. So did all the other things in my system. Why wasn’t I having fun this time at Mardi Gras? All I wanted was to sleep.

My belly felt disgusting. I knew I was pregnant, but I went to a small Catholic college in Austin, and I was afraid to admit to myself and the nurse at the college clinic what was going on. I remember sitting on a bench in the French Quarter, listening to people playing music, dancing, living it up, then all of a sudden these folks stopped right by my bench, and they turned on a boom box, and then this guy tied himself to a really huge wooden cross. It was the angel to the devil of the mardi gras celebration. All I could think was: What the hell is the universe trying to tell me? Can’t I just have fun with my friends?

I knew I was pregnant. I wasn’t talking to my boyfriend. I wasn’t really talking to any one during mardi gras or the nine hour drive back to austin. But everyone wondered what was wrong with me because I wouldn’t smoke with them. I knew I was going to have a baby, and I felt awful, loaded with guilt for the things I had consumed during mardi gras. When we got home I went to the clinic at my college, and sure enough. Baby. Okay, so how did this impact me? I dropped out of college for a year. I re-examined every choice I made. I decided to live for my girl. And I have never been back to mardi gras. Hmmm. She’s almost 21 now. I’d love to go back, maybe with her. She is a year older than I was when I had her. And she has two years of college under her belt. College—Okay, yeah. That definitely took on a new importance once Grace was born. I wanted her to see me be strong and independent. I wanted to be a role model for her.

I decided to live for my girl. What did that mean? It meant college. Stopping partying. Focusing on our future together. Because of Grace, I had a reason to do good in college. I suddenly went from skipping all of my classes, or showing up stoned, to taking classes during my lunch break at work, staying up until 3 am, after Grace went to bed, to finish writing an English paper or doing a project for history. When I moved to WA and started Evergreen, I suddenly was surrounded by other moms like me. It was validating to see other women raising their kids and going to school at the same time. We supported each other, watched each other’s kids, so we could get school work done or get a break. And what was awesome was that I would sometimes bring Grace with me to class—she was almost four at that point, and some of her earliest memories are of being in class with me at Evergreen. It normalized college for her. And, her first professor at Evergreen was my last professor there—she knew Grace when she was little. It was this amazing moment where we came full circle.

NEXT STEP: Circle ideas that stick out.

So, now that I’ve written for about fifteen minutes, I can go back and circle any ideas that stick out as ones I’d like to expand on for my essay. I see two possible themes here: having my daughter was my motivation for college or finding support at Evergreen in other single mamas was a huge part of why I was able to successfully complete college. Either of those might make for an interesting essay. It is likely I would only use small chunks of this writing in my essay—the purpose of looping is idea building—figuring out what you want to talk about, and using writing as a tool to dig a bit deeper into your thinking.

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