Write It Down

Young female is writing notes and planning her schedule.

When I try something new, I always attempt to write down the experience. Whether it was enjoyable or terrible, years later, I like to look back and remember the memories that I have forgotten. There is a sweet feeling when reminiscing in the past. Despite my desire to describe the situations that I have lived through, I find myself making excuses or simply forgetting to bring my journal. The next day, I am struggling to catch up on what I neglected to transcribe the previous night. Writing down what I have participated in does not require great skill. Usually, it is scrawls that are barely decipherable. It takes me, sometimes, a considerable amount of time to recall the setting which I was in in that moment due to the quality of my hand.[*] Although my scribbles are hard to read, the content that is buried within them is quite simple. I state my experience. There is no need for fancy words or structures because I am not going to publicly parade my writing. It is not about how the page looks or the eloquence of my language; I journal for my own interests and future.

I very much enjoy recollecting the small moments of my past that seemed so gigantic at the time. It gives me a perspective on how to look at where I am going based on my former self. I think the best and most important aspect of keeping my journal is that I can see the work God has done in me. From the moments I felt alone and abandoned to when all I was doing was praising Him are some of the sweetest memories that I will never lose. Reading the scripture that I clung to in that stage of my existence continues to aid in my knowledge of my God and His truths. He has done such work, and writing it all down saves the memory for a new day.

So I continue to journal. I press through my stagnant phases to get something on the page. I know that I do not want to lose the understanding of my situation even if I do not understand it completely yet. If you are thinking about starting a journal, there is never, really, a good, specific time to begin. However, summer or simply beginning on the day you go out and get one can be a nice foundation.

[*] Hand meaning handwriting.

Written by Maddison

Release Your Writing

If I’ve learned anything in my twenty-ish years, it’s that people care a lot about what other people think. Christian or not, having someone compliment you is an uplifting feeling. Whether we admit it or not, we all seek approval from someone for something. When I was young, the way other kids saw me mattered a lot­—to an unhealthy extent, actually. Now? Not so much. However, there is one area where I guard myself. This is a little embarrassing for me to admit, but I am absolutely worried about how other people view my writing.

When I write something, it’s like my child. I want to see it do well in the eyes of others; I want other people to like it. I like to think of myself as quite the prolific and creative writer. I write poetry, short stories, and even sermons. Of course, I write papers, as every student does. Even with those, I tend to be a little scared. After all, I put all of that hard work into my writing. To see my paper bleed, thanred penks to a teacher’s red spear, causes my heart to drop. I am worried about letting others see my writing—any of it—for fear of what they will think of it, and, transitively, what they will think of me.

Do you like metaphors? I do. So here’s a metaphor. You’re welcome.

I don’t have children, so this metaphor might be a little shaky, but I was a child once, so I think I have a bit of a grasp on this. Remember earlier when I mentioned my writing being like my kid? Let’s explore that a bit more. You’re hit in the middle of the night with inspiration for poetry or a short story and you immediately write it down. You spend the next few days, maybe even weeks, refining it until you feel like it is finished. It is your masterpiece. You look upon your work with pride, as a father does when he is proud of his son. However, here is where things get a bit different.

When I did something good as a kid, my dad would tell other people. His friends at church would hear about my amazing feats (I had a few!) and he did not care what they said. He was proud of his son. With my writing, I want to tell everyone about it, but I dwell on the “what ifs.” What if they don’t like it? What if there’s something wrong with it? I’ve found countless others like me. They’re terrified of what others will think of their writing, so they tend to shrink away from showing people.

But you know what?

We need to own our writing. So what if people don’t like it? What if one does and it really resonates with him or her? What if, because of what you wrote, they feel inspired and want to write now. My inspiration came from my sixth grade English teacher, Barbara Adams. She encouraged my writing and even made me write poetTypewriterry. I was terrified of sharing it, but she absolutely loved it. She wanted to share it with other people and that made me feel good. Yeah, there were some people that hated my first poem. They didn’t understand it, or they thought it was stupid, but because it resonated so much with my teacher, I felt inspired. In this crazy instance, my sharing of my writing inspired me.

I don’t know where I’d be without my love of writing. Definitely not at the Writing Center, that’s for sure. The steps to release your child into the world are extremely difficult, but they’re worth it. You can see it impact other people in different ways, but it is risky. I still have trouble releasing my writing into the public. I’m even terrified of blogging, but who knows? Maybe this will reach someone. Maybe what I wrote today will cause someone to overstep their fears and release their writing for the world to see. Don’t be afraid; be proud of your writing and let the world see it!

Written by Alfred

The Blank Page Nightmare

I want to start with a confession: I’m a scaredy cat. I can’t handle scary movies or scary television shows… even scary music gets me (anyone else afraid of the Jaws theme music?). For the most part, I can escape these horrors. I can turn off the TV or walk out of the theater, but the scariest thing in the world to me is the one I can’t avoid.

A blank word document.

I’m sure some ofor the blog 6.15.15f you can relate to this. Have you ever opened a word document to start writing a paper, only to find your cursor blinking along as the clock ticks your night away while your brain goes totally blank? Even when you finally manage to get a few words down, they just don’t sound right. So you struggle on, typing sentence after sentence, hoping that maybe a few will say what you actually mean. It’s one of the most discouraging experiences a college student can have. I know this from personal experience.

If you’ve ever been there, I have good news for you.

Good news part one is that you’re not alone.

As a writing consultant, I get paid to give other students advice for writing papers, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the blank document dilemma… and I’m sure my fellow consultants would say the same. Even the rare ones of us who enjoy writing, the mystical unicorns of academia, still struggle on occasion to put words on paper.

Good news part two is that there are ways to overcome this nightmare.

First, if you struggle with figuring out what to say, try recording yourself talking. In most cases, you’ve probably already got some good thoughts swirling around in your head, but it feels like there’s an invisible roadblock between your brain and your hands. Or maybe it’s that you’re afraid what you have to say won’t sound academic enough. Either way, recording yourself talking through your thoughts can be a huge help. You can play back the recording, type what you said, and then edit the draft to make it sound more organized, formal, and paper-y.

Second, if you struggle with making your papers say what you mean for them to say (or clarity in general), try reading your rough drafts backwards one sentence at a time. The trick to writing clear papers is writing clear paragraphs, and the trick to writing clear paragraphs is writing clear sentences. The problem with reading forwards is that sentences blend together so much that our brains tend to overlook gaps in logic or missing words or whatever may be disrupting our thoughts on paper. Reading papers backwards one sentence at a time helps us isolate individual thoughts to make sure they sound right and say what we mean. It also helps with catching spelling or grammatical errors, so that’s a plus!

As a final note, when you sit down in front of that menacing blank document, remember that rough drafts are supposed to be rough. Don’t let the fear of getting it wrong paralyze you when you start writing a paper. Getting it wrong is just a stepping stone on the way to getting it right. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

Written by Caitlin

Words: Not to be Used Lightly

words1

Fluff.

Every student has done it. Every student has written it. More often than not, college papers are stuffed to the brim with the unnecessary. Some people add extra ideas at the last minute to reach that five-page requirement. Others repeat the same idea over and over in different words so the conclusion takes up half a page. With deadlines approaching, we haphazardly stuff words onto the page, hoping the professor will think our ideas are semi-passable.
Writing is hard. We know. Even for famous authors, putting ideas down on paper is still a challenge. Ernest Hemingway said that “there is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Even waking up for an 8am class is easier than writing. With this mindset, however, students often forget the purpose for writing. Words get crammed into paragraphs that students don’t really care about, and papers full of neglected words get turned it at the start of class. And this is a tragedy.
Words are not to be used lightly.
Writing is a transformation. Words, when strung together correctly, can alter the average, spur on the weary, and inspire the great. Words express the ideas within us, the ideas that should be shared. When we fluff our papers, not only are we misusing our education, we are also misusing the single most powerful tool given to humanity. Words have the power2013_speech_4_3-4_3_r541_c540 to tear down kingdoms, to unite divided peoples, and to birth whole countries. Even God Himself began the creation of the universe with four spoken words.
As students, we are trying to communicate our ideas. See writing as an opportunity to express yourself. Be bold. Take pride in your thinking. Share those thoughts for all to see. Refuse to settle. Don’t see a paper as another useless assignment, but see it as the need to build on what others have done before you. Contribute.
Make every word count.

“Wise men speak because they have something to day; fools because they have to say something.”
–Plato

Written by Jenna

To write or not to write…

I intend to journal. I plan to blog. I mean to write down the thoughts that sift through my head, but unfortunately, good intentions only go so far.

Writing for school is simple; it’s due by a specific time, so I get it done. For myself, it is much more difficult. There are so many events, feelings, and blessings that I know would be beneficial to remember, but I can never seem to get them on paper.

So, to write or not to write, that is the question.

Do I just forget wanting to keep a documentation of life? I have so many other things to do; the list is endless. The thoughts I find worth going back over always seem to come when I’m right in the middle of something else, and byjournal-011 the time I’m finished, I’ve forgotten them. School papers, grocery shopping, and hanging out with friends are all more important and limited by time, whereas journaling or blogging is not. “I can do it tonight right before I go to bed,” I think. By that time, though, I’m so tired and already worrying about what else I have to do that I put it off again. As I reread school assignments or little excerpts I’d managed to write, I cringe at how awful they sound: would I even go back and read a journal? Such musing hinders me.
If I were able to make it a habit, though, if I were to write regularly, it would remind me what it feels like when my little brother gives me hugs for no reason. It would show life’s Journal 20 May 2010roller coaster in a way I could not see before. I could go back and remember how my pets followed me around the house, or how my father sacrificed time to be with us. A journal might allow me to revisit the feelings and perspective of another time, and perhaps help someone else going through the same thing. Personally, I tend to live in the present; I adapt to what is happening and how I feel now, and have trouble recalling different times. Writing down life’s occurrences as they come may even assist my memory and recollection abilities.

With this in mind, I choose to write, like I choose to pray, invest, and work out.

Does this sound familiar? Have you been struggling to write beyond the necessary?

Allow me to leave you with a word of encouragement:

“A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” B. F. Skinner

Written By Julia