What They Don’t Tell You (As A Writer)

Day 2-What are you good at? 

I came close to wanting to discuss how to be hard-headed and stubborn, because other than writing, digging my heels in something that I am incredibly good at. But I’d rather focus on the more positive side of things, and I’ve learned so much this semester about writing, especially since being in the program. 

That being said, there is a lot of stuff that most professors or instructors don’t tell you; not because it’s a huge secret, but because they’re things you often have to learn by experience and not by word of mouth. I’m not going to instruct anybody on how to go about the writing process, because every writer does it differently and therefore it doesn’t always work for the rest of us. However, I would like to offer a few tips that make it a little less daunting. 

1. Let go of your inhibitions

Depending on their personality or the duration of the class, some professors or TA’s will tell you to have your first draft of anything as polished and flushed out as much as possible. When it comes to spelling and grammar, you should always double check that. But when it comes to actually getting words onto paper or a screen, it’s so much easier to just let go and write. The reason why it takes me so damn long to get a first draft done is because I’m constantly editing and and second-guessing myself. The goal of the initial first round is getting your ideas out of your head and getting something started. Don’t think. Just write. 

2. Too much feedback can be dangerous 

The more I’ve gotten into writing, the more I understand that you do have to have thick skin; while criticism can and does sting sometimes, it can also make the revision process confusing and overwhelming. I’ve realized that I don’t have a ton of time to read every single critique letter, so I’ll either just rely on the notes I took during a workshop or the comments given to me by my teacher. I respect advice and opinions, but when I feel like I’m being pulled in a ton of different directions, I start to get frustrated over where I want the story to go and what I want it to mean. If you try to make every single little change because someone else tells you to, nothing good will come of it. Thankfully I’ve learned how to pick up on other people’s writing style, and whether or not I truly agree with what they’re saying. If I don’t, I’m honest with myself about it and then I move on

3. Take breaks and take them often

One thing I’ve noticed, particularly this semester, is that there comes a point where my brain has simply had enough for that period of time. I get headaches when I constantly look at a computer screen for more than an hour. This past week I wrote two six page papers in a span of eight hours, and it was almost like I had pulled an all-nighter. It’s very old school, but when I want to keep writing and can’t do it on a computer, I take a notebook to a coffee shop and keep going. I absolutely love going for walks around campus, so I do that almost every day just to clear my head for a little bit. Next to making writing a habit, it’s also important to know how to decompress from it. 

4. Find an Inspa-location 

Anyone who knows me well understands that I’m very much an extrovert, and tend to go stir-crazy when I’m indoors for insanely long periods of time. While I haven’t done it yet, I’m looking forward to finding several places on campus where I can write, since I am staying here for the summer. That is, a place that is both a good space and motivates/inspires me to write. I have a feeling I’ll get a lot more done that way, and maybe even crank out more ideas because of it. 

There you have it, your creative writing lesson for the day! While this does not qualify me to be a teacher, I sure hope it helps at least one person.

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