As the time for final presentations draws nearer and the final stages of our projects come to a close, there’s a sense of stress and excitement in the air. Though before I can hold the official copy of the book in my hands, I have to complete the final phase of my project: applying the last revisions and adjustments. This has been a difficult phase because I’ve had to put my writing under a microscope and determine what belongs in the book and what doesn’t while applying exterior feedback. It was a challenge because it was more than fixing little grammar mistakes or minor sentence restructuring; it was fixing big things like adding on to an anecdote or re-crafting the beginning of my story. However, this has been my favourite phase because it’s nice to see all that I’ve written laid in front of me and that my ability to self-critique has improved. I’m currently in the process of applying these corrections to my last few chapters and I intend to be done by Tuesday.
This semester has definitely been the most challenging one of my high school career and I’m sure that looking back in the future, it’ll be some of the most difficult but wonderful few months of my life. The majority of it was me being stressed out and having self-doubt which caused a lack of motivation to write. I spent many hours sitting at my desk with a red pen in hand, pulling so much hair out that I’m surprised I didn’t go bald this semester. I made cuts and changes that altered the book, forcing me to rearrange events. I found holes in the timeline and had to rewrite sections due to it not aligning with historical events. The entire process was much more difficult than I imagined and without Propel, I would have learned this much later in life. I have learned a lot about myself this semester, as well. I’m not as realistic or as good at time management as I thought I was. With the encouragement of mentors and the Propel Writers Guild, I’ve learned that perhaps my writing isn’t so horrible. I’ve developed my own writing pace and developed my own style. The creative process is challenging and unique to each artist. That’s something that my peers have taught me with their own work and visibly stressful moments. Out of all of this, the most valuable thing that I’ve learned is that you have to love the process. You can’t only love the result or praise that comes with it. My end result will be a lovely 60 pages or so with my grandparents’ silhouette on the cover and inside there will be a fictional account of there early lives and struggles in Guatemala. Yes, all of that is exciting and a great opportunity to show them my appreciation but it’s the process and the build-up that has been the best part of this.
We are currently in phase four of Propel. In order to ensure we’re organized and keep track of our progress; we have crafted a ‘Gant Chart’. A ‘Gant Chart’ is a timeline for our final projects where we mark our milestones and the action steps that are necessary to complete them. My personal timeline consists of nine milestones which are the eight chapters I have to write, and printing off the final copy through Bookwright. I have crafted a workflow for each milestone that has to completed within a five-day period. My workflow consists of five action steps: Write ten pages, send pages to my feedback mentor, receive feedback from writers guild (a group of writers in Propel), revise chapter/feedback and apply said feedback and revisions to the current chapter. Currently, I am fourteen days behind. I know this because the chart shows that there are thirteen incomplete boxes and that they have not been completed on the set day. There is also a vertical line which shows the project day we’re on, demonstrating that I’m not on track. This has greatly affected my progress because it has made me realize that I was writing for quantity and not quality. This past week I have put my writing on hold in order to revise my previous chapters and make sure they are good quality and in going in the direction that I want the book to follow. In the next few weeks, I will be focusing on quality over quantity. I will be perfecting my previous chapters by applying final feedback and revisions to each one. I will also be writing and perfecting one more chapter on top of that. By doing so, I will be making sure that the book is artful but accurate to the time-era and that the writing does justice to the theme.
My personal timeline consists of nine milestones which are the eight chapters I have to write, and printing off the final copy through Bookwright. I have crafted a workflow for each milestone that has to completed within a five-day period. My workflow consists of five action steps: Write ten pages, send pages to my feedback mentor, receive feedback from writers guild (a group of writers in Propel), revise chapter/feedback and apply said feedback and revisions to the current chapter.
Currently, I am fourteen days behind. I know this because the chart shows that there are thirteen incomplete boxes and that they have not been completed on the set day. There is also a vertical line which shows the project day we’re on and my boxes do not align with it. This has greatly affected my progress because it has made me realize that I was writing for quantity and not quality. This past week I have put my writing on hold in order to revise my previous chapters and make sure they are good quality and going in the direction that I want the book to follow.
In the next few weeks, I will be focusing on quality over quantity. I will be perfecting my previous chapters by applying final feedback and revisions to each one. I will also be writing and perfecting one more chapter on top of that. By doing so, I will be making sure that the book is artful but accurate to the time-era and that the writing does justice to the theme.
Recently in Propel, we have had to break our final project down by creating a timeline for it and I have found it to be extremely helpful. I created five action steps which became my workflow for the ten chapters/milestones that I’ll have to complete. I will have to revise and go over, feedback that I received on my previous chapter. From there, I have to write a minimum of fifteen pages per week, re-read them and send them to my feedback mentor who will be revising my entire novel. Afterward, I must receive feedback on my current chapter from the writer’s guild, which is a group of Propel students who are also focusing on writing as their final project.
I will have to finish my novel by the 3rd of June, in order to have one weeks’ worth of time to print off the novel through bookwrite, which is my eleventh and final milestone.
I have chosen to break my project down in this way because I found that it was the most organized and do-able way of attaining my goal. By writing 15 pages per week, I will have 150 pages written by the time my novel needs to be complete. I chose to add revision and applying feedback along the way because I didn’t want to get near the end of my project and realize that there are aspects of my novel that I have to change or things that I don’t like about it.
During the two weeks of POC, I found myself losing time because I felt overwhelmed and unsure of how much I would have to writer per day in order to finish the novel. I also felt unclear about the order of sequences for the story and what direction it was truly going in. Now, that I have properly organized myself and my chapters and taken all of this into account, I feel much more confident and prepared to dive into it.
I have just begun chapter 3 and over the next few weeks, I will be completing this chapter and moving onto the next ones. As I stated previously, I will have to complete one chapter per week, which not only means that I will have to finish writing them, but I will have to revise and make sure that it’s quality and fits my standards before I move on from it.
Despite the novel being a little more stressful and overwhelming than I had originally imagined, I feel happy to be improving my writing abilities and working towards something that I’ve dreamed of doing for almost my entire life.
In order to begin my final project in Propel, I had to complete a proof of concept. Mr. Patrician and Mr. Hansen gave me a checklist of what I needed to accomplish in the following two weeks, in order to prove I was capable of completing my project on time.
I wanted to write a two-hundred-fifty-page book about my grandparents’ life and their story of how they came to Canada as refugees. My proof of concept was to complete interviews with my grandparents, write fifty-pages about them and then receive feedback. However, along the way, there were more setbacks and much more self-doubt than I had expected, which of course prolonged the progress of my proof of concept.
From those two difficult weeks, I learned two very valuable things; Time management is crucial in creating a project and self-doubt will only lead you down a spiral of unproductiveness. Keeping that in mind, I will be setting a more realistic goal for how many words I will be writing each day, and I will be reflecting on the feedback from writers guild in order to remind myself of what I need to work on and that perhaps my writing isn’t as bad as I imagine it to be.
In the end, I hope my book will be a detailed one-hundred-fifty-page book about my grandparents and how they came to Canada and I hope that I’ll make them proud.
Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Propel. A good chunk of time went towards my worries of being at a new school and about the fact that I would actually have to show people my writing and get feedback on it. In all honesty, I’ve never showed my writing to anyone aside from the teachers that have had to grade my book reports. The mere thought of having someone read my writing makes me very anxious. Yet, when I watched the presentation for Propel, I immediately dreamt of writing a book as my final project and I knew that I had to push that anxiety aside and jump at the opportunity. As semester two crept closer, I began to spend the majority of my time in class daydreaming of when I’d finally be able to focus on my writing and experience what project-based learning is all about.
Needless to say, the first day of Propel rolled around and I was filled with anxiety and excitement for what was to come. I had a good idea of what to expect, thanks to a friend who had already taken the program, but I wasn’t sure of what an average day looked like or how many projects to expect. The first few days were a change for me, and I was starting to wonder if I’d even enjoy being at Propel. It was a lot of long explanations and summaries of how the semester will go. Though that’s to be expected in the first few days, I think I was eager to get into the thick of it and be able to work on my final project. And even though I’m generally a friendly and outgoing person; I felt unsure of how to start making new friends and I was adjusting to going to school with complete strangers. My home-school is pretty small and I’m used to knowing every single person in my class.
Week two came around and once we’d learned about A&B tasks and completed our first psp; I began to feel comfortable. I felt that we were learning useful skills that will actually help us later on in life. Though we do presentations in school, they don’t focus all that much on teaching us how to properly do public speaking or decent organizational skills, so I’ve found that useful. I also enjoyed watching the baseline speaking presentations because it gave me an idea as to who everyone is and that it’s not that scary presenting in front of everyone. It made me realize that I actually enjoy public speaking and I hope to continue with it in the future. By week three, I felt comfortable and happy at Propel. I had made more friends, and everyone was talking in our group chat. The environment became positive and there were good vibes all around. I was also excited that we got a lot of time for purposeful play and to discover how to use our class time effectively.
Now that I’ve developed a routine and gotten a feel for project-based learning, I’m loving every minute of it. I look forward to the mornings in the library before class and laughing in the conference room. I love hearing everyone’s final project ideas and being in a positive environment where everyone’s working towards something their passionate about and discovering their inner creativity. Propel is not at all like a regular classroom and I’m happy that it isn’t. Project based learning is challenging and requires more work, but it makes the experience more enjoyable and the results more satisfying.
For my final project, I plan on writing a fictional novel based on the lives of my grandparents and their journey from Guatemala to Canada, as refugees. It’s definitely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it won’t be easy for me to embrace the discomfort of sharing my work and taking constructive criticism, but I know that in the end it will all be worth it. I began interviewing family members a few months ago for the book and as of now I’m bringing those interviews to a close. The next steps will be to make my chapter and character outlines and then begin writing the novel. Getting excited and starting an idea is easy. The challenge will be to push through the middle of it and the obstacles that come along the way but I’m starting to feel ready to take on the challenge. After all, nothing worth having comes easy.