A Lesson Learned: Being Connected to Your Writing

By February 7, 2013Writing about Writing

CrumpledPaperRecently I had to complete an assignment I had no interest in. As it happens, it was not so much the subject matter which bothered me, but the lack of direction given to me by my professor. I wanted to convey one set of ideas in my writing; however, I was not sure how well it related to the prompt. I had two choices…I could either take a risk and go with my original idea, something I actually had motivation towards, or play it safe, and struggle through each and every word. Unfortunately, I chose the latter.

Usually, before doing any sort of writing, I write out a detailed outline by hand. I then proceed, pen still to paper, to write out a sloppy first draft. It is only after that, that I sit in front of computer, type it out start to finish, and make any necessary edits, over a period of a couple of days.

For this particular assignment, I skipped right to the last step. And worse, I made the edits in a last-minute manner, while on a break here at the UCWbL. I betrayed my entire writing process. And could not be happier to finally send the paper in.

When I saw my grade, I threw a temper tantrum. Reading through my professor’s comments, I could feel my blood boiling. I am not exactly an overachiever when it comes to my life in general, but in regards to anything written, I expect nothing less than perfection. I stared at the correction-ridden page, and as I approached the fifth read-through, I realized something. It was not necessarily my professor’s fault (besides the vagueness of the instructions in the first place). It was mine.

The lesson learned was that no matter how great someone is at something, if they are not interested, they may as well be dealing with their most hated subject. By choosing an argument I had absolutely no stake in, I automatically set myself up to fail from the start.

I recognize that not every assignment will be as open-ended as mine was. And that sometimes, you are forced to write about things you could care less about. But take it from me, if you refuse to connect to the topic in at least the slightest of ways, you will regret it. So next time you are stuck writing something you would rather not be, step back, and approach it in a different light. The difference in result will be mind-blowing. (And yes, in the end, I wrote a second draft.)

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Lauri Dietz says:

    Great blog post, Allana! I can completely empathize. And, based on my experience, even a good grade can feel unsatisfying if you know you did not put yourself into your writing.

    One time as an undergrad, I had to write a personal narrative–my least favorite genre. I basically wrote a piece of fiction. Even though I got an A on the paper, it made me question the teacher. How could she give an A to something that was not actually a personal narrative? Couldn’t she tell that I was full of it?

    I also see your post as yet another reason to encourage people to visit their local writing centers. Sometimes talking to someone else can help reveal an authentic way into a project.