Out of my comfort zone

I had a writing prompt for my anthropology class, a maximum of six pages, and there were three topics and we had to choose two out of the three to write about. Pretty standard writing assignment. What came next was a bit strange.

They said that we didn’t need an introduction. We didn’t need an introduction because it took too much space. I had never heard anything like that before. Introductions don’t take up space; it’s something that’s needed in a paper! I know the days of formulaic writing (introduction, body paragraph, body paragraph, body paragraph, conclusion) are long gone, but every paper that I had ever written had an introduction and a conclusion. Every piece of writing that I had ever read had an introduction and conclusion. It logically it didn’t make sense for a paper to not have one. They wanted us to dive right into the questions, but I felt that there still needed to be some transition into what the paper was going to be analyzing. I don’t remember them saying that a conclusion was unnecessary, but I think that was implied too.

Another interesting thing was that they didn’t want us to connect the two questions that we chose, but it was tempting to because they were interrelated in a way. Also, in previous classes, most analysis papers would tie things together. Our six page paper was essentially two separate writing assignments (they even wrote int the assignment that each response to each question should be about three pages long…), so maybe that’s why I had trouble with this assignment because I thought of it as one cohesive paper but it wasn’t.

I realize there is no “right” way to write, but I wasn’t comfortable with this. Being a writer, it’s ingrained in me to start off with something that grabs the reader’s attention and provide a context for what the paper is about. An introduction serves to give a preview of what the paper is going to be about and a paper felt incomplete without one. This taught me that there is and isn’t a formula for writing. This form that they had us write our essay in is not wrong, but it is not something I prefer and styles of writing can come down to preference.

Sometimes we have to “tweak” our style of writing because of what our professor wants and gear our writing towards that audience. Like in my case, I wrote in a way that is against what is natural to me. But doesn’t this summarize what writing is? It pushes us to try things that we never done before and sometimes because we have to. It makes us squeamish and uncomfortable at times because right when we think we have it figured out, something new arises, and we learn that our writing can be better. These challenges are suppose to improve our writing and let us see what kinds of writing we like and don’t like. I think I found part of what I don’t like.

But, I ended up still writing a one or two sentence introduction. I just had to.

Melody Ng

Melody is currently a senior studying business.

One thought to “Out of my comfort zone”

  1. Hi Melody!

    I have never liked how our writing is based so much on our current professor’s preferences. It makes me wonder if we even have a style of our own, or if we are just constantly molding to what our professors expect.

    Similarly to you, I cannot write a paper without an introduction and conclusion. I think that is because of my “training” in high school. It makes me squeamish when I have to break the mold of the traditional writing style taught in my high school classes. However, that style I have adopted was a result of me molding to what my high school teachers expected.
    So I do have a question for you to consider: do you think the style you are used to writing is really your own? Or, is it a result of what your teachers wanted, like it remains today?

    I really enjoyed reading your post!

Leave a Reply