Hi my name is Catherine, and I’m a procrastinator.

Practice what you preach.

What are things about writing that you know you should do—or want to do—but don’t. Why? What are things you tell others to do, but don’t do yourself.

I think the one thing I hate about myself more than anything else is my inability to motivate. I am a chronic procrastinator. I suffer from the worst strain of procrastination: entitled procrastination. Meaning, because I’ve gotten away with procrastinating in the past, I haven’t been compelled to change my ways. I’ve excelled in the past doing things last minute, and therefore I’ve fallen into a dangerous habit of low self-motivation. It happens mostly with schoolwork. I have too much confidence in myself. Even though my best work has come from assignments I did NOT do last minute, I still procrastinate because I’m not punished enough. Writing is a particularly dangerous task to leave to the last minute because part of the value of writing is the extensive revision and collaboration process, which takes time. But it seems I’m always the most prolific when I’m under pressure. I need help. This is all very bad, and maybe I shouldn’t be admitting it into an official academic forum. But admitting it to myself is the first step to change. And I need to change, fast.

Dont Talk About It Be About It

Writing is a thing I used to do simply because I love it. Now that I am a writing minor I find myself very interested in what is the “right way,” to do something or what type of writing will produce the grade I want to see at the top of my page in red ink. I have almost gotten lost in the due dates and grades that I have left the reason why I truly write. Does anyone else feel this way?

 

I am a hyprocrite! I tell people how easy writing is for me when I zone in and write but then I complain about it all the time. I tell people to write for fun and then writing for classwork will be become easier but I never write for fun anymore. There is just no time. I am clearly loosing sight of a few important things here. Now to make a checklist for the things i have forgottent o do that I must wedge back into my schedule somehow.

 

1-Sleep

2-Eat

3-Write

4-Read

5- Ayana Time

6- Relax

7-Dance

8- Be career bound instead of being day to day sufficient

 

Next task is to get these things done. Ready set BEGIN!!!!!

oH and think about project III, Eportfolio, dance, NOiR (Student Org), PBG (student Org), Leaders and Best (job), proteges, family, friends, boyfriend, event planning, birthdays…etc…….  ALL WITH A SMILE!

 

 

 

 

Practice What You Preach

When I discuss writing with others, particularly people who feel as though their writing isn’t strong, I tell them that the best way to improve is to simply sit down and write about the things that come to mind. Every so often throughout the day I will think of something that sparks my interest. It can be a funny thought, a simple idea, or something completely ridiculous and I know I should write it down, but I don’t. I’ve never considered the possibility that one of these brief moments could lead to larger idea or story, but every piece of writing starts somewhere, right? Instead of taking a few minutes out of my day to document these thoughts, I’ve effectively thrown away thousands of starting points for the next great story and the opportunity to become a better writer at the same time. I don’t practice what I preach and I really should. While I’ve already missed numerous opportunities to find the idea for the next great story, I don’t have to waste them moving forward. I will practice what I preach.

The Writer’s Goal: Practice What You Preach

While editing or workshopping the writing of my peers and classmates, I find myself invariably leaving the same comment: “Your piece is well-written, but could benefit from some streamlining of language.” Right about now, you might be asking what this means. Well, this sentence is my own personal way of saying, “why say this in twelve words, when it can be said in seven?” or “why use a word with nine characters, five syllables, and a hyphen in the middle, when a four-letter word could suffice?”

This advice is heard often as a writer, from teachers, from articles on writing, in famous quotes from writers who are famous themselves… and if I’ve workshopped any of your writing, you’ve probably heard it from me. Nevertheless, I often find myself using these lengthy words and complex sentence structures that I advise my peers to avoid.

My new goal in writing: to practice what I preach. So if any of you catches me writing something endlessly long and convoluted, please remind me to streamline.

Practice What You Preach

Be witty but not obnoxious, be edgy and not cheesey. This is the advice I give to writers. It’s not a line I created myself; it was written by the Wizards of Spoon, as I like to call them, Sarah Adler and Mackenzie Barth. They are the CEO’s of Spoon University, my bosses, my mentors and my friends. As the editor-in-chief of a publication, I actually do have to give writers feedback all the time and make sure they write good content. Giving writing feedback is something I do daily, not just during in-class peer reviews.

 

Now obviously this advice applies only to certain kinds of writing, as a very serious research paper shouldn’t necessarily be witty. But I always appreciate a writer who can lighten the mood with humor, even when it’s not specifically a funny paper. During my minicourse on blogging, our main focus was finding our voice. I wanted mine to be witty and edgy, but that’s easier said than done. You have to be a naturally funny and clever person, which not everyone is. That is why sometimes you simply can’t be funny. Sometimes the inspiration just doesn’t strike you.

 

Another thing I sort of know I should do and wish I could do is include poetic sounding language and metaphors. I always envied my classmates who could write in a way that sounded beautiful and profound. They use such colorful language and detailed description that adds a whole other layer of depth and strength that I can never seem to achieve. I don’t exactly preach others to do this, but it is definitely something I think a good writer should do.

Talking About Practice

All throughout my childhood, my dad taught me how important it is to practice. When I struggled at baseball, he told me to practice. When I didn’t do well on a test, he told me to study harder for the next one. So when I became an avid writer, and my dream of becoming a professional writer became more and more realistic, I knew I should heed my dad’s advice.

So I wrote as much as I could, and—perhaps more importantly—I read as much as I could. I read magazines and newspapers, and I surfed the Internet for everything I could find in every major publication. From there I learned to write: I would read what I liked, and try to do what those writers did.

Still, today, I don’t read as much as I should, and I don’t write as much as I should. I’ve heard many professional journalists say that a good way to become a better writer is to write every day, and I don’t normally do that. I write a fair number of sports stories and do a fair amount of writing for class, but rarely do I write, say, for all seven days in a week. Even if it’s just a short piece on an event from the day or something cool that happened to me, I agree that it’s valuable to write every day. I think so for the same reason my dad always gave me: you always get better with practice. Writing is no different—I think the more you sharpen your skills, the better you get.

First, you generally learn more about yourself and your style. I believe the best writers of all genres have their own distinct style, something that makes their writing theirs. If I picked up, say, a Gary Smith profile on the ground without a name, I would know Gary Smith wrote it. Writing every day helps you find your voice that you can keep consistent.

I also think it helps you stay “in shape.” Like anything else—playing the trumpet, shooting a basketball, painting, singing, golfing, reading—writing is a skill that needs to be maintained. It’s not like riding a bike, where, as the expression goes, you learn how to do it and then you know forever. If you don’t write consistently, you lose touch with it. If I didn’t write all summer, I would have been a worse writer when school started in the fall than when I left in the spring. Writers—again, like trumpet players and golfers—go through slumps and surges, and I think staying in tune helps minimize those slumps.

Finally, you learn what works and what doesn’t. You might get to break the rules every so often, and that’s a good thing. You can try opening with a question, or writing a whole piece full of rhetorical questions. You can try opening with a quote, or writing a whole piece without even one quote. You can write long, winding paragraphs with complex diatribes, or you can break up your writing to keep the reader on his or her toes. Even just small devices—parallelism, metaphor, avoiding clichés—get tightened up. Everything is on the table, and when that’s the case, you can zero in on what works best.

The Hardest Advice to Follow: Your Own

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Neil Gaiman offers a little bit of advice.

Writing is no easy task. Of that I am well aware. And like all other processes that can be long, difficult and quite frustrating, advice on the craft is available for those who think they require it. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, I follow writing-themed accounts on Twitter, and I have sought out and also stumbled upon random tips for writers. Most of these sources of advice, if not all, include one point that I think is quintessential: write everyday.

Now that sounds simple enough, of course, but for some reason I don’t do it. Outside of academics, I typically only write when the moment strikes. This is perfectly exemplified in the journal that I keep. Initially, I’m pretty positive I set out with the intention that it would be a daily place to write down thoughts and happenings. Soon that “daily” turned into “weekly,” and shortly after it turned into “whenever-I-feel-like-it.” The dates are rather sporadic; I think the biggest gap spans about two months (yikes). In my attempt to save a little face here, I do jot down the odds and ends I randomly think of on an *almost* daily basis that could turn into bigger pieces of writing. Those I keep in a notebook.

The underlying problem is no mystery to me – at least not anymore. I have learned many things since coming to college – which is rather the point of this place anyway, I’m fairly certain – and one of those is this: I am a lazy person at heart, and I am only slightly ashamed to admit it. I was semi-aware of this prior to college, but post-secondary education has brought out the true nature of the beast, and it is ugly. I often find myself at Procrastination Station, in danger of missing the last train. It can be exhilarating at times – knowing the final countdown fast approaches, I hunker down and become determined to finish the paper or project before the deadline snipes me between the eyes- but it is far too dangerous a life to be living. Here again, though, I don’t follow my own advice and procrastinate anyway.

What’s the matter with me? I could follow this rhetorical question with a series of further rhetorical questions suggesting the possible things that could be the matter with me, but that would be pointless because I already know what the problem is, I’m just too lazy to do anything about it. See what I did there?

Read to Write

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to read. While my love for reading has lasted over time, the amount I read has dwindled tremendously. I used to read anything I could get my hands on. I would sit down with a book and not get up until it was finished.
My mom always tells me that the way to become a better writer is to be a reader. She begs me to go back to my book obsessive days. But somehow, with all of my other responsibilities, and with my free time being consumed by reading through Facebook, I have neglected my love for reading books.
I agree with my mom on the importance of reading with regards to improving many aspects of myself, including the writing part of myself. I hope this is something I prioritize in the coming year, and that it is not too late to rekindle my love for a good book on a Saturday afternoon.

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Practice What You Preach?

Like many of you, I have been writing for a VERY long time. I’ve considered myself a writer ever since first grade when I wrote my first short story: a fiction piece about a young student who gets sucked into his computer screen. Despite my love for writing, there are many things I know I should do, but don’t. I have drafted an annotated list that includes some of the strategies and approaches to writing to which I often fall short. These include:

1) Reading out loud- Just do it!! After spending hours and hours on a draft, the last thing I want to do is read the paper out loud, one sentence at a time. However, after years of getting points off on papers for stupid grammar mistakes, I think I have learned my lesson. It is foolish to not spend the extra half hour reading out loud after spending so much time on the paper itself. You never know if a sentence structure is awkward or unclear until it is read aloud.

2) Try to publish your work- If you think its great, chances are others will too! There are so many publications in our community, many of which are student run and always looking for new work to publish. You can even make money for your work by entering contests. For example,poetry contests are extremely common and often offer and nice cash prize. But more importantly, publishing your work is a great was to get recognition! I once tried to get a poem I wrote about golf published in Golf Magazine, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. Regardless, now is the perfect time to get your name out there through accessible publications.

3) Use a style guide- Don’t under-estimate them! No one is too good for a style. There are so many rules and grammar, and sometimes grammar but be correct but not effective. There may be a better way to organize your thoughts. So, start carrying around a style guide. There are many different versions, my favorite being the Strunk and White “Elements of Style.”

4) Free write- I tend to write drafts very slowly, carefully crafting each sentence as if for a final draft that must be perfect. But, for a first draft, this simply isn’t the case. Sometimes it is better to get all your ideas down on the page before going back to edit and organize. This is why I think it would be good for me, and all writers, to do more free writes when preparing to write a paper. A free write is usually about ten minutes of constant writing, never stopping to analyze or critique your work. I don’t free write enough, but hope to utilize it more in the future as a brainstorming tool.

I plan on instituting all four of these strategies moving forward to improve my writing and increase my recognition as a writer.