As the Minor in Writing Portfolio and Capstone Project deadline draws spookily close, I am feeling a bit of anxiety. I imagine that I’m not the only one! There is this sense of pressure for perfection that I’m feeling, especially with graduation looming. I’m feeling like, in a small way, this final portfolio and project are a summation of my experience at Michigan, my growth as a writer and my potential as I’m leaving this place. I think that pressure is what’s making me feel a little tense every time I sit down to work on my project or papers. I get this feeling often with writing. I’ll put off writing an essay, application or even business email because I want it to be great. I’m worried that what I’ll write won’t be what it needs to be or could be, so I just keep putting it off. Then the task looms larger and larger until it becomes this big insurmountable and daunting task. But, I’m sitting here in Starbucks thinking, I love this project! I love to write! I love the work I’m putting on my portfolio! So, I’ve been working on ways to get past the stress of this and focus on the joy of it. I found this cool article about how to get past writer’s block. The article focuses on silencing the inner critic, which is something I think each of us struggle with.
It suggests some creative ways to get your writing groove back. One is a method that our professor shared earlier this semester-free writing for a set amount of time. You set a time and just write whatever comes to mind without worry of sentences or structure or productivity. Take the pressure off. Another is to get your cursor set up on your computer and turn the brightness down until the screen goes black. Then just write. Apparently this can decrease the anxiety over how much you’ve written so far.
I’ve also been working on some different tactics of my own. Recently, I’ve been scheduling times to sit down and write different parts of my project and portfolio so that I don’t put it off until later. I pick a chunk of time and write it down in pen in my planner like I would a meeting or class so that I can’t schedule anything else during that time. I’ve been experimenting with different coffee shops (and coffee drinks!) and fun music playlists. Recently, Imagine Dragons and Stevie Wonder have been really doing it for me. There’s also a new DJ series at the State Street Starbucks! The DJ himself is slightly distracting as he really gets into spinning the tracks at the center bar, but the music variety is helpful and entertaining. Most of all, I’ve been trying to step back and remind myself that I love doing this. I think in the crunch of end-of-semester, graduation, exams and projects, we can forget this. I don’t want to lose the joy in this journey! I hope some of these ideas can help you too!