I’ve been repeatedly back-handed by University life. The transition to campus life is simple, because Northern Illinois Campus is easy to navigate and the people are mostly interesting and kind.The difficult part that warrants the back-hand is the sheer amount of work and papers that are due. You turn one in- two more appear. I want to build a time-machine and set the date to each first day of previous semesters for the sole purpose of slapping myself for believing that I could continuously get by with minimal effort. Procrastinators beware: Junior and Senior level work is the real deal.
The English/Writing content is what we are here for, though.
The first week of school consisted of more of the same. I sat in my desk with my head heavy in my hand and my eyes wandered everywhere except towards the teacher. Other bubbly students sat close by and offered their input at the teachers questions, and I would occasionally chime in to get my participation points for the day. I expected to keep this up for the entire semester. And then we started writing.
A strange thing happened; I realized my writing lagged behind the others. This epiphany occurred during a workshop (if you think you workshop in class a lot now, LOL) and I noticed my intellect mirrored the others, but my presentation paled in comparison. Example: I just used the cliche ‘paled in comparison’ and this would widely be considered as a bad move. The other students pointed that tendency out to me. I agreed.
Each successive week became easier. My head no longer rested on my hand and I trained my eyes on the teacher. I learned to cut out weak verbs. You’ll realize the last two paragraphs of this post proved easier to read than the first. I removed all of the ‘to be’ verbs (was, is, am, were, etc.) So we exiled the weak verbs. The class focus then moved to emphasis. This practice promotes ending each sentence with the word you want the reader to hear the loudest. The lingering effect of a sentence lies with its last word. For creative writers, practice ending sentences on strong verbs, adjectives, or nominalizations.
This has been the story so far. Aside from the aforementioned writing tips, the most significant thing I learned so far has come from a humbling moment and self-reflecting. The first workshop burst my complacency. You may not all be like me, but the lesson certainly applies; listen to your peers and teachers. They are in that shared room for a reason.
Until next time, (a cliche I’ll allow myself)