How Recreational Writing Helps with Scholastic Writing
Hi everyone! Mary and Amy here. This week, we reached out to one of our tutors, Chase, to take a crack at a topic we think is often overlooked in academic writing: recreational writing! This could be poetry, fiction, short stories, journal entries, or anything else you can think of. You may find yourself thinking that you’re not a writer and this isn’t for you; but go ahead and read what Chase has to say, and you just might find that you were a writer after all!
There’s a decent chance someone has told you that school made them hate reading. Most people reading this blog can probably recall reading 3 or 4 books over the course of a year in middle and high school English class (with short stories and articles strategically placed to hammer home whatever the book’s theme is). After a while, it made reading books a painfully slow cycle: read 30 pages, tell everyone how you felt about them, complete 2 worksheets in your worksheet packet about said book, and repeat until an essay about the book’s main topic is due. Of course, learning to analyze what you’ve read is important, but I understand the sentiment. If you aren’t reading something you find interesting, the cycle gets old really fast.
I think school makes people hate writing. In fact, school can even turn the writing process into a cycle: you research, plan, draft, revise, and submit. Almost every class you ever take will ask you to do this. The cycle will probably burn you out after a while, making you see writing as a robotic process you just “do” for class. If your only experience with writing is scholastic, that’s how you’ll start to see writing as a whole; an academic exercise.
Recreational writing gives you a chance to experience writing outside of academia. It has no deadlines, no restrictions, and no grading. You are free to write however you want, whenever you want. All you have to do is sit down and create. Plus, that kind of writing can actually help improve your scholastic writing.
Writing your own personal work helps you develop your own style and voice in a unique way. For example, just taking the time to write an entry in your journal can help you describe the events of the day, express your feelings/opinions, and explain why you feel the way you do. You’ll start to understand yourself, as well as your beliefs and why you believe them. That kind of self-knowledge carries over into writing for school, where much of your writing will involve describing something you’ve seen or read, explaining that same thing, and reflecting on it.
If you get in the habit of writing, you’ll also find that writing becomes easier. Developing the habit will make it easier to sit down and write, as you will get used to doing it. As you continue to put your thoughts on paper, you’ll also become more comfortable with doing it. In addition, making a habit of recreational writing will keep your mind in writing mode
The writing process taught in school is an inescapable part of writing; planning, drafting, and revising are central to developing your content. Fortunately, it can be a little more fun if you’re working on something outside of school. Whether you’re overhauling a short story or erasing and rewriting a sentence that just isn’t right, you’re engaging in the process of editing and revising. In my experience, revising a piece of personal writing is always more enjoyable than revising my academic work. However, those experiences have also made it easier for me to revise my academic work. I believe that as you learn to spot mistakes and fix errors in your recreational writing, you will have an easier time spotting them in your scholastic writing. Moreover, learning how to organize your own thoughts and narratives will help you organize your essays, as a large part of academic writing involves properly organizing and connecting your ideas. (If you’d like to hear some constructive feedback on your writing, you can also stop by the Writing Center - we love creative writing!)
As the late musician Prince stated in his unfinished memoir, The Beautiful Ones,“Try to create…just start by creating your day.” I believe this mindset will help you reap the benefits of recreational writing. Writing is, ultimately, an act of creation. It is important to write things that you want to write, as it is important to create the things you want to create. Once you start creating, it will be easier for you to envision and create other things. So, when you have a break from schoolwork and life obligations, take a little time to create.
Mary and Amy
The Writing Center is located on the first floor of the Leland Speed Library across from the Gore Art Gallery.
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