What to do about Writing Problems?

In a way I have never done before, Professor Babcock encourages us to examine and challenge our own writing problems. Before this class, when I came across an issue, or writing problem, I would often try to distance myself from it, almost running from them. Last semester in my sociology of sport course, I was responsible for writing two large essays. The topics were broad, resulting in students developing unique arguments. I remember numerous times running into writing problems such as running out of relevant sources to address from the lectures or readings. Another time in discussion, I found out that another student was writing about a topic very similar to mine. My response in both scenarios was to scrap all of my hard work and start over. I ran away.

However, Professor Babcock has challenged me to attack each problem head on. In re-examining my experiences from last semester, I now see possible solutions. First, I should have researched on my own, finding other relevant sources that could have even challenged my professors point of view.

Secondly. I should have seen the other student writing about a topic similar to mine as a challenge. I could have examined, “How can I make my essay unique? Are there any other viewpoints or avenues the professor hasn’t examined that could contribute to my overall topic?

In regards to my capstone, I was struggling to determine possible sources that I could not only use in my annotated bibliography, but would also positively combine with my interviews. I had thought that my interviews were the only way to “research” this topic, as I did not find any other related studies.

However, my in-class group meetings and consultant, Professor Hetzel, challenged me to think differently and attack the “issue” instead of divert from it.

From my group discussions, I was made aware of mirror neurons. This neuron “mirrors” the behavior of another, as though the observer were itself acting (Scientific American). Whether or not I will use this in my final project, I will research this scientific aspect and view it in relation with my interviews.

In addition, Professor Hetzel challenged me to examine sources relating to sport psychology. Upon initial research and review, I found the points about sport as a communal unifier intriguing. I will continue to research in this regard and prod the respondents to see if they feel this way about their community supporting their favorite team.

Overall, through attacking my writing “problems,” with the help of my group and consultant, my project has gained new roads, ones that I will continue to travel down throughout the capstone.

One thought to “What to do about Writing Problems?”

  1. Dear Louis,

    You are definitely not alone! I totally understand the hardships that accompany writing problems and how frustrating and detrimental they can be. I’m glad that with the help of your group and your consultant you were able to tackle this one head-on, instead of scrapping your entire idea. Last week, I was also facing a problem with my project in that I wanted to switch genres but had no idea of which genre to switch to. Taking Tharp’s advice in the tenth chapter of “The Creative Habit”, I gave myself 10 minutes to write down as many possible genres as I could. I really pushed myself to go past the 30 mark, which was not an easy task. However, I surely reaped the benefits. While the first half of my ideas were somewhat standard and lacklustre, what stemmed from my stretched time-pressured brain in second half was a host of creative ideas I had never even known I could think of. As a result of this activity, I quickly found a new genre and jumped excitedly back into my work.

    Maybe next time you run into a problem, this method will help you find you to creatively reach a solution like how it did for me. However, do you think there is a common thread that links the kind of problems you run into? For example, in the same Tharp chapter she talks about how diving into the first idea you think of without prodding, poking, and pushing it can later get you into a rut. Do you see patterns like this in any of your problems? If so, maybe there are some precautionary measures you can take to ensure you don’t keep running into the same roadblocks.

    Best of luck with the rest of your project!

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