It isn’t often that I get stuck when writing essays. Writing is something that has always come naturally to me, especially if it is about literature. I’m the type of writer that powers through an essay in one afternoon, finishing a complete draft in one sitting, if I can.
But sometimes, I bite off a little more than I can chew, and if I get too much in my own head about my writing, I get stuck. When I get stuck, I get cranky, and when I get cranky, it gets ugly. Disaster ensues.
Sometimes, stepping back from my writing for a while is all it takes. Going for a walk, running some errands, going to the gym, or watching an episode of Game of Thrones are sometimes all the remedy I need. After stepping away from my writing for a while, I can come back, recharged and ready to go.
Last week, though, when writing an extensive analysis of The Taming of the Shrew, my usual “take a break method” wasn’t working. After writing eleven pages, I was stuck. Dead end. The worst part was, I knew what I wanted to say. I just couldn’t find the right words to say it.
My solution? Bother my roommate.
Not bother, really. She was happy to listen. But the UCWbL was closed, and I just really needed to talk to someone about writing. It didn’t matter that she was a math major, or never read Taming of the Shrew, or even that she didn’t read my essay. I just needed to vocalize my ideas to someone—anyone—who would listen.
I told her what I was trying to say, and she would rephrase her understanding of what I said back to me. If she could understand, with no background to my writing, what I was trying to say, I knew I had nailed it. It only took about ten minutes for me to finally grasp it—I had nailed it. I went back to my computer, and typed furiously and finally finished.
All I needed was a little reassurance and someone to listen as I teased out my own ideas. And I think this is why the writing center is such a valuable resource for so many writers, whether they’re in a first-year writing class, or writing their graduate thesis. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen.
Conversation is invaluable, and this experience with my roommate really got me thinking about my role as a writing tutor. Being on the other side, I realized how much it means for me to just simply listen to a writer’s ideas.
We’re not just here to make better writers. Sometimes, we just need to be willing to listen.