Face the Challenge!

Every time an essay is due, I plan out which day I will spend writing the draft. And I completely dread it. And then that fateful moment arrives. I am sitting, staring at my computer screen. I take the first step.

Taking this first step is always easier than I think it will be and there are a few strategies that explain this, at least for me.

First of all, I generally write my rough drafts in a coffee shop. I really like coffee and often wonder how I would function without it, and of course the atmosphere of Espresso Royale on State Street is a little cozier and less rigid than that of the Grad.

Now that we’ve established the setting, let’s proceed into the actual strategy. I like to write things by hand, and as I jot down bullet points that come to me, I can go back through my notebook with a fun colored pen and organize my thought points into a coherent progression of ideas, well, coherent enough for a shitty rough draft. I can highlight important ideas I want to use, underline what has potential to be supporting evidence, and comment on anything and everything. I don’t experience this effect while typing out my ideas because I can’t rearrange them in a tangible way. The physical act of writing small phrases, not even sentences, creates a “flow” that allows me to get lost inside of my own ideas. In fact, it almost makes it enjoyable. And I also want to make it clear that these bullet points do not constitute an outline of any sort, they are simply a stream of consciousness.

My next step is to go straight into the body paragraphs, in order to avoid restricting my writing to a thesis I wrote before discovering what direction my paper is going.

So, pick up a pen and notebook (no not a macbook pro) and jot down your ideas. Get lost in them. And listen to some good music while doing that. It’s a must. I prefer Sufjan Stevens (I like sharing music choices, if you couldn’t tell). Good luck!


Hillary Crawford

Let's start with the basics- I am a third year honors political science major here at the university, with a minor in Writing (obviously, right?) and Global Media Studies (have to fit in those film classes). Until this summer, I was basically clueless as to what I wanted to pursue. "Grown-ups" always asked what I wanted to do with a political science degree. Simultaneously, fellow students around me declared they had finally found their destined direction in life. Well, all of these comments just made me wish that I had a set goal, that I knew what I wanted to do in the foreseeable future. But I didn't. After I came to terms with the beauty of keeping my options open while continuing to learn about a broad spectrum of topics, my lightbulb finally went off. Oh, the irony. Long story short, I think I want to be a journalist. But like everything in life, this is always subject to change.

2 thoughts to “Face the Challenge!”

  1. Haha I like this blog post. I too cannot function without at least one cup of coffee a day. I think your strategy is great, I have also found that it is much easier to outline your paper with a pen, or a few colored ones, then it would be to rearrange on microsoft word. Keep doing what works best for you!

  2. Seems like we share part of a writing strategy, at least the outlining with pen & paper aspect. I’ve found that jotting down an outline on paper is a great way to visualize the entire paper; for some reason typing outlines on a word processor just doesn’t have the same effect. I don’t think I’d be able to write in a coffee shop, I personally prefer a completely silent environment.

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