International Writing Centers Week: When Writing is a Struggle

Next up in our celebration of International Writing Centers Week, we ask our tutors to get real about when writing is a struggle. All of our tutors are talented and experienced writers, but writing still takes work! Here, tutors share what their writing challenges and how they tackle them.

Getting Started and Wrapping Up

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/209487820140954646/
Hemingway knows that getting started is hard. Image via Pinterest.

“Starting! I could spend hours agonizing over how to get going on a paper. I remedy this by outlining extensively, so I know what I’m saying and where, and writing a placeholder introduction so that I’m not stressing out about that instead of writing the meat of the paper.” – Abbie, English MA student

“OCD! In ‘academic’ writing, I find myself staving off an initial tendency to make ‘it’ perfect before even starting to draft. Ye olde perfection/procrastination divide factors in….To deal with this, it’s simple (for others, not me): JUST START WRITING. You can cut it later, but the actual process of writing (i.e. conveying your own ideas, materially, to other/s) requires this mediation as its starting point.” -Jimmy, English PhD student

“I absolutely hate conclusions. It’s a rare occurrence if mine are more than four sentences” -Anna, Business Administration BA student

Too Many Words, or Just Enough?

“I tend to write long sentences when I’m trying to figure out my thoughts so I leave time to revise.” -Areti, English PhD student

“I tend to be very wordy in my writing, and I’m fortunate that my journalism studies have helped with this. Though I’m a huge fan of using multiple words where a few would suffice, I’ve trained myself to go back through my writing, and see where I can eliminate wordiness. I also always struggle with ‘into’ versus ‘in to!'” – Lisa, English and Journalism BA student

“I use a lot of dashes and semicolons, and sometimes my sentences get too long. I read those sentences out loud to see if they sound awkward, and if they do, I shorten them.” -Kayla, English BA/MA student

“Something I’m always mindful of is keeping sentences concise and keeping the reader engaged.” -Zack, English MA student

Connecting Ideas

“Especially when I’m writing about something I’m really interested in, I tend to move from one idea to the next too quickly. Because of this, I try to chart out my ideas before writing, which helps me think each one out thoroughly and establish a good progression of thoughts.” – Ivy, English BA student

“I thought I was really good at writing topic/transition sentences, but recent feedback has said otherwise! I try not to worry about them so much in a first draft, but make sure to spend extra time on them during revision.” -Lauren, English PhD student

The Writing Center-2.jpgCitations and Sources

“Most of my current writing is research based, so it’s easy for me to get caught up in citations and lose my train of thought. I’ve started filling in outlines with cited notes and then going back to weave together the information once it’s all in the right order, rather than trying to write while I’m still incorporating notes from different sources.” -Taylor, International Affairs BA student

Tone

“Since starting college, I have gotten worse and worse at writing with a more personal tone! I’ve gotten so accustomed to writing academic pieces that it’s actually very difficult for me to write more informally.” -Aja, Philosophy and Math BS student

Focus and Getting it Done

“The hardest part of writing for me is staying focused! I’m an energetic person, which is great when I can channel my energy into writing, but also means that I get fidgety and distracted more often than I’d like. When I sit down to write, I try to make sure I have everything I need and that I’m in a distraction-free environment.” -Julia, Marine Biology BS student

“I struggle with getting my ideas across. I usually try to take a break from writing for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes. That way I can see some of the points where I lose track.” -Katie, Media Arts BA student

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