Writing On My Mind Part IV

The writing I have on my mind today is, in the spirit of finals, Blue Book exam writing. I cannot stand Blue Book exams. I think they’re so destructive for several reasons.¬†First of all, every time I take a Blue Book exam, I leave feeling like I have carpal tunnel. Second, I always run out of time.

Thinking of ways to address this issue, though, I have to give credit to two sources: (1.) Joe’s post, the one on which I just commented; and (2.) my Econ 466 professor, the one who issues all my Blue Book exams this semester. Both of these sources offered similar advice for effective (and timely) essay writing. Plan. Planning out what to write before you write it on a Blue Book exam saves so much eraser, time, stress, deducted essay points, the list goes on. It’s advice I learned when I was probably in second grade, but I resist it often because I think of it as pure poison to my creative juices.

What I need to remember for Blue Book exam writing is this: not every essay is a creative piece. Some essays are meant for answering specific questions and answering those questions only, and that means they must stick to a strict structure. Some essays aren’t about process; they’re about product, and that’s just the way it goes. Planning ensures the product.

It nearly kills me every time I take a Blue Book exam because there is no space for the revolutionary final prosaic moment and no time for the fifteen-minute contemplation of the golden opening sentence. But that’s the Blue Book essay, and that’s a lot of things: either¬†you answer the question the way in which you’re expected, or you fail.

And so the numbing begins to the carpal tunnel, to the essays without shimmering rhetoric, and to the answers woven solely with the purpose of pleasing their inquirer. Product over process, I’m learning.



One thought to “Writing On My Mind Part IV”

  1. I definitely feel your pain with regards to Blue Books (literally and figuratively). The one thing I do enjoy about Blue Books, at least from an English major perspective, is that expectations for the quality of the essay/response are generally a lot lower (at least they are if your professor isn’t Satan). Lots of professors understand that the time crunch can wreak havoc on the creative process, as well as people’s wrists. So hopefully your professor isn’t expecting an in-class essay to read like an essay you were able to spend more than an hour on!

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