Confidence to Write Freely

I’m kind of scatterbrained. This is my third attempt at writing this blog, and honestly, I’ve written over a few thousand words by now to no avail. I just don’t think that what I’ve written is good enough. I keep looking at the points I’ve made and wonder whether they’re valid or relatable. I’ve written about how to be assertive, how to find peace in every moment, even about how to find hope when life is a pain. What I’m experiencing is a form of writer’s block. Funny thing is, I’m sure many people have already written about writer’s block, so what other points could I make about it? How can I find something new to say about it, despite knowing my thoughts are hardly original?

First, that line of thought is entirely wrong when approaching writing. Everybody is unique in their own way. So why couldn’t my point of view of writer’s block help somebody else? It’s not for me to say whether my thoughts will hit the exact pressure point needed. Nobody else will repeat my same words in the same place at the same time, so I’ve already found originality here and now. Sure, when it comes to stories, one has to avoid copying other works. But given individual perspectives and styles, as long as one isn’t lazy, almost anything can be original.

Second, I’ve subjected myself to an opinion that I have to achieve a certain quality of writing. However, I’m the only one who’s read what I just wrote. I don’t know what other people would think about it. So how can I accurately appraise the quality of my work? Whether we judge ourselves too harshly, too highly, or not at all, there are several perspectives that have to be considered. Yet I never even tried to get feedback about my work. How am I to say my writing isn’t good enough, when my opinion of this will be different from someone else’s? This is why writer’s groups are wonderful things. I can’t count the times (well, I can, but I’m crazy) I’ve brought an excerpt of writing to them, insisting it’s the worst piece of garbage I’ve ever seen. I completely expected my group to tear it apart, and I would understand. Even so, they always assured me otherwise; sure, I made mistakes, but they weren’t as bad or as all-encompassing as I thought. As it turns out, many writing mistakes are easily solved with a little know-how. I was surprised to find that even if I didn’t know how to fix things, I could just ask, and I’d get help with no judgment attached. Weird, right?

My starting approach and my tendency to over-criticize are just two of many big things that hold me back from writing (also planning, at which I’m horrible). They also stop me from other creative activities such as making art or music.  However, the best weapon I’ve found is that even though I might not be happy with my abilities now, I won’t get any better if I don’t try. I can’t get input on the perceived quality of my works if I don’t get it critiqued by others. The saying, “practice makes perfect” might be aiming a little too high, but practice at least provides progress.

So if you’re reading this right now, trying to get inspiration to write, I say to you: Go! Be free! Write whatever comes to mind and filter it all later! And then filter it again, and again, because writing is a process that is always in motion. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first draft or your fifteenth, writing can always be developed. There’s another adage that says, “a penny for your thoughts.” If, indeed, thoughts are that cheap, why cling on to them like a miser, when you could cast them into the furnace to develop and refine them into a great big, copper pinnacle of creative completion? Or why not use them as currency and include yourself in the great economy of imagination?

Go! Write! Say what only you at this time and place can say!

 Written by Isaac

Photo Credit:

https://wallpaperscraft.com/image/bird_ocean_flight_sky_clouds_5689_3840x2160.jpg

 

National Handwriting Day

For most people, the art of writing by hand is a common skill which feels almost instinctive; yet it’s also a personal form of self-expression. The methods and manners by which people write by hand can infer much about their personality, mood, interests, or even their personal history with the craft. I, for one, was taught to write in italics. Consequently, my handwriting is a sloppy mixture of cursive and print. Though it may appear unreadable to some, my handwriting is just that: mine. At this point, it’s such a natural habit that it would be difficult to change, it wouldn’t feel right. Just as thumbprints, birthmarks, and eye color are unique to every individual, handwriting is a craft which though universal is uniquely adopted and changed by each person who learns it. Though capable of being closely mimicked, one’s handwriting cannot be replicated by another individual. As unique as a speaking voice or gait when walking, handwriting is a personalized activity.

According to the ever-reliable hub of miscellaneous information Wikipedia, the act of recording information with written or inscribed words has been practiced for thousands of years. Long before the time of Jesus, even! Of course, over the centuries documenting words has evolved from hieroglyphics and pictographs, to calligraphy, to typing on the latest edition of Microsoft Word. While handwriting may not appear to be a skill for those who are required to learn it, not everyone experiences the privilege of expressing themselves via the written form. Though easily learned, writing by hand is a gift. In article found in The Wall Street Journal, journalist Gwendolyn Bounds states that when children learn to write by hand, swift improvement in motor skills occurs.

In this day and age, typing is all the rage. It’s required for class assignments, daily activities, jobs, and is considered the more efficient method of recording words even when it concerns personal hobbies such as writing poetry. Writing by hand is rarely required in 2016, except when signing one’s signature. Yet many people would do well to try writing by hand for a change. Personally, I find it relaxing, even stress-relieving to spend a few minutes writing by hand. There’s satisfaction in using a seemingly mundane skill to create something pretty. It’s a method by which everyone, despite their abundance or lack of talent, can create something both lovely and useful. Though the act of writing by hand may be scarce these days, pencils and paper still abound. Seize your tool and begin handwriting!

Written by Karoline

Photo Credits: https://media.azpm.org/master/image/2013/2/1/spot/writing-hand-spotlight.jpg

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

“Man Speaking to Men:” The Writing Center as an Arm to the Liberal Arts.

personWilliam Wordsworth defines a poet as “a man speaking to men… a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him” (sic) (299). Every person, to Wordsworth, is a poet in his or her fashion; however, one becomes a better poet when he or she delves deeper in to the beauty of life. Thus, a poet takes a holistic mindset of life, praising both the mundane and glorious. This correlates to the ideal of a college which studies the liberal arts. As Arthur Holmes details, “the liberal arts are those which are appropriate to persons as persons, rather than to the specific function of a worker or a professional or even a scholar” (emphasis added) (27).

So, how does a Writing Center help establish people as people? How can it contribute to the development of the soul, and thereby become an arm to the liberal arts? I would like to make two quick points in accordance to these questions.

First, the liberal arts are the consummation of the individual and tradition. Conflicting with Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot postulates in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” that “no poet, no artist of any art, liberalarts_2865655-655x280has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the poets and artist” (2556). In the Writing Center, consultants guide students according to predating rules and distinctions made in the English language. However, a consultant fulfills this task while allowing the student to produce his or her original work. Thus, the individual exists, hence man to men, while within the realms of tradition.

Second, the liberal arts mature versatile persons. Indeed, the Writing Center, and education in general, can be seen as a mechanism to future success. Students often enter the Writing Center anticipating an assembly line service. They desire to hand in their essays and expect the employees of the Writing Center to correct sloppy grammar, refigure poor syntax, update formatting, and revamp un-academic diction. After this smoldering purification process, the students return and gleefully submit their essays to their respective professors.

Though this appears freeing, this mentality actually entraps and handicaps students. They become dependent on the Writing Center to craft an excellent paper. On the other hand, if consultants interact with students, then the consultant is able to explain why a certain linguistic rule exists and the logic behind Liberal-Arts-Educationit. The student then is able to utilize this knowledge in the future. Not only this, the Writing Center aids the student in thinking logically. Logical reasoning is beneficial towards all aspects of life, allowing the Writing Center’s influence to move past the walls of a room or building.

Let us then, as Writing Centers and employees of Writing Centers, learn how to be an arm of the liberal arts and promote a love in the liberal arts in all students we come in contact with.

Works Cited

Holmes, F. Arthur. The Idea of a Christian College. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. Print.

Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. F. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 2554- 2559. Print.

Wordsworth, William. “Preface o Lyrical Ballads.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 292-304. Print.

The Beautiful Creation of God

Have you ever noticed how a nice walk through nature can turn any bad day around? I do not know how it works, but it is a wonderful thing. Maybe because it is silent and that is an escape from the noise of work and school. brook forestOr, it could be because you are alone and the seclusion is calming. I like to think, though, that it is God’s way of letting me take my mind off of the business that fills my life and to focus on His creation. He is an artist: the way the flowers bloom in a million different colors and the way the setting sun paints the sky with reds and oranges and blues is beautiful. It stops me in my tracks, and I thank Him for His amazing work. I think about how He created me, too. When I was in my mother’s womb, He was forming and molding me. That must mean that I am a miraculous creation because He made me.

Throughout the world today, too often I see women comparing themselves to other women and men doing the same. It is as if no one can be original, but they must always be striving to be like someone else. I am too fat, too skinny, my hair is too curly, my eyes are too small, and I do not have a thigh gap. NatureNo one is content with who they are. It is a shame I must say. There are so many beautiful people in the world and they do not even realize it. If only they would take their eyes and desires away from being like someone else and turn them towards God. He created each and everyone one of us. His creation is testimony to His artistry and the beauty He manifests. So if God created the elegance that surrounds, and He also created us, that must mean that we, too, are a lovey creation. How cool is that! The God of the universe, the one who made the earth and all that is in it, made us too.

I want to challenge all of you to take a moment and thank God for creating you. He made you, in His image, to be beautiful. So stop trying to be like someone else, be you and be content with who you are, a creation of God Almighty. Psalm 139: 13-16 is testimony to this; I encourage you all to read it.

Written By Maddison

Finding Your Voice

Writing, for me, has always been a safe haven. It is my escape route from the world and thoughts that consume my mind. Writing is, for the most part, the only form of communication which I enjoy.

Timages (2)hat being said, I would be lying if I told you that writing is easy. Yes, I know that I am a senior writing consultant in the University Writing Center and that some people think words should automatically flow from my head to my fingers and into the computer, but they don’t. The truth of the matter is that knowing basic grammar rules and how to perfectly format an APA paper is rarely comforting when it comes time to actually sit down and write a paper. In fact, I struggle with academic writing on a daily basis. That’s right; you’re not alone.

One of the greatest struggles that accompany the writing process is finding one’s own voice. Accomplishing this task confuses many people, so you may be thinking, “Well, how in the world am I supposed to do that?” The answer is simple: write.

Writing isn’t as dreadful and excruciating as you might think. In fact, if you’re like me, writing just might turn out to be the only thing that gets you through the day. Instead of solely writing for academic purposes, make it an enjoyable pastime. Journaling, blogging, and writing letters all serve as great gateways into finding your own voice.

Instead of spending hours trying to brainstorm creative subjects to write about, grab a pen and a blank sheet of paper and write whatever comes to mind. Write about things that interest you, topics that you enjoy reading about, or places you have visited in the past. It doesn’t matter what you are writing, as long as you are writing.journal 2

If you share what you have written with others, don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback. Be open to constructive criticism and consider applying what others have said to your writing techniques. Don’t, however, allow harsh remarks to cloud or hinder your voice. The most important thing to remember is this: be yourself.

In academic papers, you want to establish your voice early on, keeping it present throughout. It is common for students to use run-on sentences and fragments in order to showcase their voice, which is why it is important to prove yourself as a strong writer beforehand. You must establish yourself as a capable writer before breaking the rules of grammar.

Increasing the amount of time that you spend writing for your own enjoyment will definitely enhance your abilities as a writer. Writing for yourself enables you to find the voice that may not shine as brightly when writing for bigger audiences. Your voice is important; use it.

-Haley

For more tips on improving your writing, please click here.