How Writing Leads to Thinking

While reading this article, I was reminded of a research paper that I wrote when I was in 7th grade. The guideline for the research was to scour the books, encyclopedias, and databases that my middle school library offered and collect at least 100 bullet points of notes before we could begin writing the paper. I quickly collected my 100 notes, then collected another 50, then 100 more, finally only stopping when I was pulled aside by the teacher and told that I needed to start writing. Like Hunt describes, I was stuck in this thinking that I would never truly reach the end of all possible research, there would always be another article, another chapter that could finally bring me the inspiration I needed to master my topic. I also knew that doing the research is the easy part, and I was content to prolong it in order to put off the stress of pulling my first few thoughts out of the air.

This piece seems to go along nicely with the “Shitty First Drafts” paper that we read previously. Both of them seem to have the same idea from how I see it: writing is hard, but you can’t let that stop you. I can’t even count how much writing I have delayed until the last possible moment because I did not know where to begin, and I was insecure at the thought of not knowing where to begin. In my eyes, the Minor in Writing program is a way to open students up to accepting their shitty first drafts and not being afraid to begin writing, even if they don’t quite know where they’re going yet. We should write because we enjoy it, and the length of the process that it takes is not a mark on our abilities, but an indication of the passion we have for our subjects and how we convey them.

With that in mind, my goal is to be more forgiving of myself in my initial stages of writing. Too often, I spend hours on the first page of my first draft because I would feel shame to have it be any less than I have envisioned it to be. I want to accept the fact that the act of my writing will bring out the ideas hidden in my subconscious, and I shouldn’t beat myself up for not being perfect from the beginning.

2 thoughts to “How Writing Leads to Thinking”

  1. I agree a lot with what you said about beginning your draft. I always find myself anxious I am missing the key passage or chapter on my topic when I’m doing research for a paper. I also think the one thing I might miss will make or break my paper, which is never the case. I also really enjoyed your goal. Starting the process is hard, but writing a draft you know your peers will see can be the worst, especially when you do not feel that confident about your topic. I think your goal is one I will, and I think the rest of our class should try to achieve.

  2. Oh the dreaded middle school research papers! I remember when the day would arrive and I too would spend a majority of my time reading books rather than writing. I really resinated with, “We should write because we enjoy it, and the length of the process that it takes is not a mark on our abilities, but an indication of the passion we have for our subjects and how we convey them.” I think this speaks volumes to college projects. Often times I feel like I am behind the class in progress when perhaps I have just not been inspired yet – and that’s okay. The harsh expectations of progress, especially when in constant comparison to your peers, can be suffocating. I think you’re right: It is when we realize how to forgive ourselves during the process that we overcome our anxieties.

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