My writing process is generally a bit of a mess; I recognize that’s not a particularly optimistic way to begin a genuine reflection in preparation for a semester-long capstone project, but it’s the truth. Every writing assignment I’ve ever had has included the following stages: stress about the prompt, thinking about the prompt, thinking deeply about the paper that I could write if I started right at that very moment, stressing about the fact that the paper isn’t written, and then typing very, very fast in a desperate attempt to get the assignment turned in on time. I do not recommend this method. Unfortunately, it has worked very well when my goal is a “good” grade. It has not worked as well in creating work that I’m proud of.
When I think about the work that I feel proud of, the work that might not be technically perfect but helped me learn something about myself and my writing, I automatically think of my pieces from English 425. The class was centered on immersion memoir, and I found that my rushed attempts to write a full rough draft before workshop actually forced me to be more vulnerable and honest in my work. My words only began to flow when an upcoming deadline forced me to stop thinking so much, and just write. I would always look at the work I had written at 4am in a bleary eyed panic with new, caffeinated wisdom and realize that there were actually some interesting, new developments that I could refine into something that might actually mean something.
My hope for this capstone is that I can find that space where I know enough to just write relatively quickly so that I have time for the necessary revisions. I’m concerned, though, because my topic feels like one where I need a certain amount of knowledge before I can start. In my production plan, I acknowledge that I have that tendency and am trying to schedule despite it so I can hold myself accountable for just starting without completely chickening out every time I think about it. I’m also worried because this project doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but I’m vain and I love writing about myself. Most of the policy writing I read is important, but boring – it leaves me feeling uninspired, and that’s not how I want my audience to feel as they go through my project. So hopefully I can figure out a way to do this right!