Unsolicited Advice

I love giving advice. I think I love it because it makes me feel like I’m doing something proactive in this messed up, unpredictable world. Even if the person I am advising doesn’t take the advice, I still feel like I did something that helped the situation. Of course, that may be overestimating my impact. Regardless:

I would advise anyone who is excited, confused, enticed, or remotely interested in writing to look into pursuing this minor. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about writing when I walked into class at the beginning of the semester. Boy, was I wrong! This class challenged my perspective on what it means to be a writer and what the act of writing entails. Three ideas that lead to that change are listed below:

1. No piece is ever finished: you can repurpose or remediate any piece of writing. There will always be something in a piece that may need some tweeking or restating because the context and audience will change. It might have a grade on it, but a paper can always be reworked to fit into a tighter, or larger, niche.

Something that goes along with that…

2. Do not fear revision: I used to hate revising. I figured if I wrote a piece what I had in my head was good enough at the time and would be good enough to be shown to the world. In my mind, once something came out of my mind it was fixed; there was no way to rethink it. Well, I was WRONG. REVISING IS SO IMPORTANT! I cannot stress that enough. Through this class, I learned that it’s okay if your drafts are terrible and your idea may change from beginning to end product. No one will ever write a perfect first draft (if they say so they’re liars), so don’t put pressure on yourself.

3. Writing is fun: It’s true: writing can be fun. School tends to suck the fun out of a lot of things, but Writing 220 forced us to relocate that fun. We were constantly encouraged to go outside the box, to disregard typical form, and take risks. We were also reminded, many times, not to worry so much. I think U of M kids actually have a really hard time with that last one, and it was refreshing to be reassured that, yeah, we’ve got a handle on this, so don’t freak out.

Hopefully these points can help guide you on your journey through the minor!

Emily Cotten

Emily Cotten is a sophomore Vocal Performance major at the University of Michigan. She hails from North Carolina and enjoys reading, writing, and blasting opera hits in her car while driving down the highway.

3 thoughts to “Unsolicited Advice”

  1. Emily,
    I honestly cannot think of what to comment except that you have great advice. When I first began the minor in writing, I was always glad to be finished with an assignment and dreaded editing something that I thought was complete. However, you’re right: when it comes to writing, nothing is truly finished. We can say to ourselves that our writing is good enough (which happens more frequently when a paper is approaching a deadline), but it is never truly finished. And with regards to the last point, I always thought writing to be fun regardless of the subject. You are right though; this class certainly alleviates the pressure of success. It helped us learn to have fun with expressing ourselves with our writing, which I think is one of the most beneficial aspects of the class. Overall, great advice that I can personally relate to.

  2. Hi Emily,
    I really liked your advice, especially because it was in list form. There is just something about lists that make information easier to sift through. I was interested in when you said the class changed your perspective on what it means to be a writer. I often think about what it means to be a writer? Am I writer? I am excited to learn more about what it all means, and I hope my perspective will, too, be changed. I also liked how you took the time to mention that writing is fun. I love to write, but sometimes I don’t find it to be that fun in a classroom setting. It was reassuring to hear that you found this class to be fun.

    Anyways, thanks for the advice,

    Meredith Fox

  3. Thank you for writing a post that I can relate to so completely. Honestly, from your intro about loving giving advice, to hating revisions, I agree with you 100%. That being said, I’m excited to push myself away from that. I look forward to getting better at revising, and to have a class that can actually be solely for my own benefit and my own enjoyment. Typical to a U of M student, I have such a hard time letting go of the grade- but I’m excited to get the chance to do that in this class! Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts- much appreciated by someone who relates!

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