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

 

“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.

Academic-struggle Bus

Are you a frequent rider of the academic-struggle bus? Do you think writing papers is the worst part of college? Do you cry over impending deadlines and dread being given written assignments?

Then this blog post is for you!struggle-bus

First, I want to say I have definitely been there. I’ve procrastinated and pulled all-nighters. I’ve missed deadlines, misplaced rough drafts, misread the directions for assignments. And worst of all, I’ve stared into that awful abyss of an endlessly intimidating blank page, feeling absolutely sure that I would never find worthy words to fill it.

So please believe me when I say this: I know how you feel.

I hated writing for the longest time. And then little by little, I didn’t.

Over the years, particularly the last few of high school and the first few of college, I had to write quite a bit. Even though I didn’t especially love the process, I did love the feeling of accomplishment I got when I finished a paper. I always told myself I was reading my final draft multiple times to check for any errors I’d missed, but in all honesty, I just enjoyed getting to read something I had created.

For me, that was the key that opened my mind to accepting writing as an interesting activity –realizing that writing was creating – that everything I wrote was an entirely new creation and nobody else in the world had ever or would ever arrange the same exact words in the same exact order that I did. Realizing that was amazing to me.

When I started to think of writing as a creative process, I started to see how beautiful it really is, how gifted we really are to have the capability of translating the fluid language of our thoughts into the solid language of our words in writing. That’s how I came to believe that writing is cool.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective.

If creativity isn’t your thing, you can think of it another way. What if you like to argue? Think of writing as arguing. A great deal of the writing you’ll do in college will require an argument of some sort anyway. Writing StruggleEven if you’re writing a compare and contrast essay, you’ll essentially be arguing that two things can be compared and contrasted, and your paper will support that argument with evidence.

What if you like football? You can think of writing a paper like you would think of designing a football play. In football, it’s all about finding the right pattern of moves to reach the endzone without losing the ball. In writing, it’s all about finding the right pattern of words to reach the conclusion without losing the point.

What I’m basically saying is this: whatever you have to do to convince yourself that writing is cool, do it. And as a general rule of life, remember that your attitude will shape your actions. If you spend all day thinking tomorrow will be miserable, it probably will be. If you refuse to think of writing a paper as an opportunity, you will lose the opportunity to enjoy it.

But, if you are confident and excited about your ability to prove your point or reach the endzone or create something new, you’ll enjoy writing a lot more.

 

-Caitlin

For more information on writing an essay please click here.

Hope Restored

Hope Restored

Josh’s heart raced like that of a mouse scuttering from boulder to boulder, escaping the molting lava of Pompeii. Or, as a meerkat, fleeing the thudding hooves of a herd of Wildebeests. But Josh would have been content with either situation, for his predicament was far worse.

As a mere freshman, Josh faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: English 2301.

Testing out of freshman English, Josh entered college with chest held high. Destined to be the next Mark Twain, no English class could daunt him. So, he barged into his first class session of 2301. Bypassing the trembling students in the back, Josh strutted to the front row and stared the professor in the eye. Breaking a moment of awkward silence, the professor asked, “Can I help you?”

“No, but I can help you… teach this class!” Josh remarked, not releasing his glance.

But, when he saw the syllabus, everything changed.

“12 essays!” Josh exclaimed, “This is impossible!”

The professor chuckled and said, “Some professor you are, freshman.”


Josh sat on his couch agape. “What am I going to do?” He asked his roommate.

“You should visit the Writing Center. They’ll write your paper for you,” His roommate replied.

A sparkle graced Josh’s eye and his dreams shone anew. There was hope for his future. Navigated by destiny herself, no obstacle could impede him.

With the speed of Hermes, Josh rushed to the Writing Center.

“Here are my 12 essays. Write them for me.” Josh demanded as he flew through the Center’s door.

The receptionist calmly replied, “Sorry sir. We assist writers in developing their capabilities. We won’t write it for you, but we can certainly help you.”

Taken aback, Josh fell to his knees; once again, his dream slipped from his grasp.

“Do not be dismayed,” reassured the receptionist. Her hair burned golden in the light. Josh swore he saw an angel.

“Help is here.”

A hand grasped Josh’s. Leonard, a Writing Center consultant, pulled Josh up.

“Though times are rough,” Leonard stated, “You can’t give up!”

Leonard sat Josh down at the nearest table and said,

“If we work together, we can accomplish this task.”

“I now know that: though college is difficult, hard work pays off,” Josh responded, tears welling in his eyes.

Leonard grabbed an MLA instruction packet and sample essay. He and Josh discussed the rules for MLA, looked over the sample paper, and brainstormed some ideas for Josh’s first essay.

“See Josh,” Leonard explained, “the thesis is like a roadmap for an essay,” Josh nodded in agreement, “It is a brief, clear statement of the argument of your paper, helps you plan your paper, and helps your reader see how you divide your main ideas into subtopics.”

“Wow!” Josh exclaimed with fist held high. “Now I can write all my essays for English 2301 without having a panic attack.”

Restored, Josh galloped out of the Writing Center. As he skipped away, the sun set an orange aura on the horizon. Hope was alive, and so was Josh.

Co-Authored by John Brock and Ben Jones