Prompting Confidence

By February 6, 2013Writing about Writing

The prompt based paper. All college students, and most high school students, have faced this kind of paper, essay, word-based thing, save for those who have somehow escaped it, luckily. To escape the tedium of writing a paper like this, there have been several times where my friends and I have sat down and amused ourselves by comparing what we have. Now, when I say compare, I don’t mean that we compared quality. We never criticized each others’ papers for grammar, structure or style. No, what we were looking for was how vastly different our papers turned out to be because of different interpretations of the prompt, different analytic techniques, or the different voices our writing embodied (many times a combination of all three).

It is pretty ludicrous to think that the fact that everyone in a class is writing based off the same prompt means everyone will write similar papers, since everyone (and I mean everyone) has their own voice, and their own way to interpret and approach answering a prompt. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t fall into this trap. There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling that comes when discussing what everyone wrote about in their papers during class and realizing that you wrote something completely different. This can happen, usually, because of one of two things: either you didn’t follow the prompt, or you did but you just took it in a more unique direction.

Just because your paper goes a different direction doesn’t mean you did it wrong, so don’t immediately loose confidence in your paper, and worry about your grade. And if your class is discussing what everyone wrote about, don’t be afraid to speak up. As long as you provide enough evidence to prove your point, your different take on the subject won’t necessarily blow up in your face. In fact, it usually turns out quite well. So don’t loose confidence in your work, be proud and stand by it. If the professor says you missed the mark, talk to them about why and learn from your mistake. It isn’t the end of the world; good writing stems from a combination of confidence and the awareness that everyone has room to grow.