Words of Wisdom

Five tips (just for you!) written in five minutes (or less)

Tip 1: The semester is what you make it

At least this semester (Winter 2019), it seems like there isn’t a lot of direction/instruction to the Gateway course, so you really have to forge your own path/journey. There were a few structured assignments at the beginning where everyone is doing basically the same thing, but the Experiments start the snowball of “whatever you choose,” so choose wisely! Your depth of learning depends on your own standard/threshold of research and engagement, so if you’re not careful to do as much as you can while you can, you might miss out on this great opportunity to explore new avenues of your writing ability.

Tip 2: Embrace the chaos, but stick to deadlines

“Dive in” early on, plan ahead, and keep up with the deadlines. There really isn’t time to waste when it comes to the experiment cycle, so make sure you know ahead of time where you’re going with your projects, and then make sure to start trying to get to that place as early on as possible. It’s perfectly normal to make changes as you go, but try to have a game plan, even if you expect things to change a bit.

Tip 3: Share!

The “tote bag reading series,” as my professor (T) called it, was born out of a hesitance against participation when T asked for a few people to read their work each class. Essentially, then, we had to pick several names out a tote bag each time to decide who was going to read. As time went on, however – after we realized everyone was a great writer and everyone had something to learn – we warmed up a little more to the idea of participating. So, my advice to you is this: don’t hold back from sharing just because you’re not sure if your writing is “good enough” or “worthy of sharing.” As a Minor in Writing student, you can be confident that you were selected for the program because you’re an amazing and passionate writer. Not only that, you are someone who can both contribute and receive to the overall study and practice of writing taking place in your classroom. And that study is much more beneficial when the participants participate, so be happy to share your work! At the very least, your writing can be a celebration of your craft and/or a helpful way for others (and yourself) to learn, so embrace your identity as a writer, and share!

Tip 4: Get to know your professor and classmates

Getting comfortable with those around you will make reading and discussing writing and ideas so much easier, more fun, and more helpful.

Tip 5: Find your voice

Test new genres and mediums, test new styles of writing, take the chance to write the things you want to write. After sitting through a semester of classes, I can see that most people have their own voice. Some voices are academic and clear. Some voices are cheeky and hilarious. Some voices employ dry humor and resigned narration. Some voices wrap things up with a nice bow. Other voices leave the reader questioning. Some voices make you think. Other voices make you laugh. Still other voices manage to do both. Embrace the different voices around you, and learn from them. Start to tease out how your voice is similar and different from the others in the room; what it is that makes your writing style what it is? Hopefully, by the end of that process, you’ll have a little better understanding of who you are as a writer.

That’s all from me for now! Good luck in Gateway!

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