Writing assignments has always been a struggle for me.
I mean I write mostly pretty good assignments, insofar as my grades are concerned. The content isn’t the problem. I’m a good writer. The problem is how I get there.
I’ve talked a couple of times about how I handle facing the prospect of something that I Have To Do: I procrastinate and make excuses as to why I Shouldn’t Have To until the deadline is finally unavoidable and I give in and just get the thing done. I tend to work pretty well under pressure, although as often as not it results in my missing the deadline, however narrowly.
And I think it’s finally, finally dawning on me just how important it is to be able to work without wanting to when it comes to writing.
The lesson I wanted to take away from last semester was to just be able to put something, anything, on the board. Screw quality, never mind if I even have any ideas that even remotely resemble originality: the goal is just to produce something, following the logic that something is better than nothing. That’s what I wanted to get comfortable with, and as yesterday I had an assignment due by midnight and I didn’t start writing it until yesterday (and just barely missed the deadline because I was 150 words short come midnight), I need to get on top of actually taking that lesson to heart.
And I think the way to do it is actually to just do it more.
I mean practice makes perfect, yeah? I think this is where I start learning more about what that means as well; I don’t just mean practicing what I preach, but to practice it in ways that I haven’t thought of before, but are blindingly obvious upon further consideration.
For instance: not only do I have assignments to meet, but I have a novel to revise, and there are a bunch of book reviews I said I’d do. So rather than just restricting the learning of this lesson to how I write assignments, I’ll apply it to my creative writing too, and blog maintenance, and get used to the discipline that that entails. On top of that, this is the year I want to really get serious about losing weight and getting fit and healthy, so there’s yet another opportunity to practice this whole ‘get something done’ ethic – and not just that, but also taking every opportunity to take work that I feel myself retreating from because it’s something that I feel I Have To Do and, instead, charge at it head-on. I predict a lot of uncomfortable feelings, of feeling like I’m really forcing everything I write and it not being what I really want or know how to say – and I’ll write it anyway. Because that’s the deal. I hereby assign myself the task of doing work that I Have To Do, even and especially when I don’t want to.
It’s kind of depressing that even writing that out makes me feel nervous. I will take this as a sign that this is something I really seriously need to do, a weakness I need to shore up. Ages ago I brought up the idea of a ‘life draft’, and I guess this is me finally trying to put it into effect.
And to that end – book review tomorrow. Beautiful Creatures. I have chapter-by-chapter rundowns and an almost-totally free day today to back me up there, so I have no excuse to not do it. That’ll be my start, after editing my late assignment and handing it in (thank Hephaestus for electronic submissions). And one thing that I have actually learnt, rather than just wanting to learn it, is that once I do actually follow through and do the work I’ve got to do, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. And that is a feeling I could definitely get used to.