University Writing Center Blog

Posted on February 14th, 2019 in Writing Strategies by University Writing Center

Written By: Stephanie M.

So when I was asked to write a blog post, I thought about all of the different things I could write about, and quickly became overwhelmed by the ideas running through my head. I could talk about my writing of the Master’s Thesis, I could write about my Writing Center experience, I could talk about my literacy narrative…when we discuss writing, we have the opportunity to go down so many avenues. However, I found that a piece I had written last summer might be the best option. 

Last summer I was part of the Hoosier Writing Project under the direction of Dr. Steve Fox, and for about 3 weeks I worked alongside various English teachers from various teaching backgrounds, and one of our objectives was to write. The following came from a provided prompt, and I think it accurately describes the way that so many of us view writing (even educators such as myself). I still come back to this and pick at it from a critic’s stance, but I think even in this state, it’s able to show what writing is meant to be and what writers are supposed to do. 

Becoming a Writer

1.     I’ve always been told writing is a practice, and a difficult one to master. I can ramble off what I want to do easily but sitting in front of a blank page is like listening to a wet dog panting in my ear…uncomfortable, to say the very least. But I put away the image of a lolling tongue. 

Please, disregard my grappling with the fear of presenting my work, forget my shaky voice and mute the sounds of my tumbling tongue over text. They are not me.

2.     The best authors and writers always say that you should write at least one thing a day, but preferably ten pages, regardless of whether you have a home to clean, a dinner to fix, and a dog to walk. Don’t get me wrong, those pages of text are intended to be rough-hewn like the platform logs in railways. In fact, they’re better that way, right? They’re supposed to look more gargoyle-like than Godly. Supposed to be able to damage your pride a little bit. Don’t worry about the end result, you’re still a writer.

3.     A writer is a performer, right? Guante explains in his poem “Small Talk” 

“I pull myself out of the magician’s hat night after night and I have the scars to prove it” 

Don’t we ever look at our scars and recognize that we, too, have pasts?

4.     Perhaps that’s why I never liked drafting. That process of pulling myself back through my own work and opening past experiences that I don’t want to remember. 

Perhaps I don’t want to revisit the fact that the deadline was in two hours or perhaps I didn’t want to look back at the raw emotion of early musings still undressed from the night of my mind and displayed on the white day of the page for everyone to see if they care to open the notebook. 

Perhaps that poem hit a little too close to home or that word was just a little too forced or that goal was just a little too far to reach.

5.     Effective writing is said to be best performed at 15-minute intervals, with 5-minute breaks in between. But during those 5 minutes, you can’t think of anything related to your writing. Switch gears, do a load of dishes, go outside and show the dog that you do care, but come back after 5 minutes so you don’t get distracted.

6.     We were talking about writing, right? How it’s a practice has never come naturally nor will ever come naturally? Downs and Wardle, professionals in the field, state that writing isn’t natural because it is a derivative of the natural process of words as spoken language. Does this explain the intimacy of writing?

7.     Writers are always considered problematic. You’ll be asked “when is your writing going to be accepted by mass publishing companies?”, you’ll be asked “What are you going to do with your English degree?”, you’ll question whether it was worth it, and you’ll question your validity as a writer.

8.     When you pull the draft that you’ve been dreading to get out, you’ll first do what you never do with your first drafts: you’ll read it aloud. You’ll then mark on the page, and make some notes, and then move forward. 

Congratulations, you’re a writer.