College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #30: Just Do It

Today’s lesson is about essays.

Let’s just agree on something. Essays are hard. Each teacher is pickier than they  should be about things that they shouldn’t be. They are all looking for something specific. And that’s hard, trying to remember how to cite things properly and how to format your paper the right way and blah, blah, blah.

Now I know I’ve already written about grammar and stuff. That’s hard too.

But today we’re going to talk about the hardest part of any essay: STARTING.

And it really is the hardest part. There is literally nothing worse than making yourself read that chapter or that article or whatever and then write about it for five pages or ten pages or 1000 words or 1500 words or whatever your teacher wants from you. And this is coming from someone who likes writing. And I do, I really do. It’s good for me and all that. I can sit for a half hour and churn out a 400 word blog and it’ll make mostly perfect sense (I ramble a lot, so we have to take that into account; and sometimes my phrasing is strange because I write the way I talk sometimes, but those things aside, I like to think I mostly make sense). In contrast, I can sit for a half hour and a have a very wonderful MLA heading (that is four lines with my name, the teacher’s name, class, date, and a title, for all of you who don’t know) and nothing else on the page.

But you have to sit down and do it.

Not just sit down and read and get up and check this or clean that or turn the TV on or whatever. And I recognize how guilty of that I am. And I’m also not any good at pre-writing (not that I can’t do it if my teacher requires some proof of it; I just never use any of it). So I have to just start.

Sit your happy behind in a chair at a desk or table in the quiet until you have something on paper. And believe me, once you get something going, it will almost write itself. (I always have a lot of ideas but never really know how to connect them until I start writing.)

Believe it or not, your teachers probably gave you something to help you. Go back and look at the rubric or the assignment or the syllabus. Somewhere there is a list of things, probably vague things (but things to talk about are things to talk about), to address in your paper.

You just have to start. Somewhere. Put something on paper. That is the best way to get anything done. I doesn’t even have to be anything good or even something for the beginning of the paper. You just have to make yourself start. Just do it.

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