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  • Elijah Cardenas

How To Write When You're Not Writing For Class

Hello Writing Center folks! It’s Annie again! This semester is getting closer and closer to the end and, as each week progresses, I’m sure your assignments are starting to really pile on. If your course load is anything like mine, you might be working on a lot of writing assignments for your classes at the moment. But, I have to ask: have you ever wanted to write something for yourself that wasn’t required for a school assignment? I know I have and I’m sure a lot of you have as well! So, I asked Writing Center tutor Elijah Cardenas to give us some advice on writing for personal enjoyment and use!

Writing Center tutor and Guest Writer Elijah Cardenas

Learning to write for school projects and assignments is one of the first lessons you learn as a new college student. It requires focus, precision, and attention to detail, specifically the details in the rubric given out by the professor. Most of the time, school assignments, even ones with flexibility built into the topic, aren’t essays or projects you would choose to write, were you given the choice. But, in the hustle and bustle of jumping from project to project, most students never get the opportunity to write what they want to write. If you’re one of those people who has an idea that’s begging to be turned into writing and really want to write something outside of your school assignments, I’m here to give you four pieces of advice on how to start writing for yourself.

  1. 1. Find a topic or project that interests you.

When you’re writing for yourself, you should find a topic that truly interests you. If you aren’t interested in the topic that you’re writing about, you’ll never be able to find the motivation to finish it. Similarly, if you’re writing a story or a poem and you just can’t connect with the plot or theme, it may be hard to push yourself to work on it. By contrast, when you write about a topic that you truly enjoy, you’ll find yourself enjoying the writing process and looking forward to finishing your piece to the best of your ability.

Find a topic that interests you and write about it!

2. Make a schedule

We’ve all had days where we wanted to do something for ourselves, but the day just filled up and before we knew it, we ran out of time. This can be a common problem for writers! But, a schedule can quickly help fix this problem. Scheduling times of the day or week to write will help make sure your project doesn’t fall by the wayside when things get busy and will put you on the path to finishing your masterpiece.

Make a writing schedule and stick to it!

3. Write when you don’t feel like it.

There will be days when you wake up and don’t feel like putting in the writing time. You’ll get to weak points in your blog post or essay, slow points in your story, and run out of words that rhyme with “winter” in your poem. For most writers, hitting a writer’s block is inevitable. When you do hit that rut, it’s important to find the strength to sit down and write something, anything, to keep the momentum going. Even if it’s one word a day, eventually you’ll power through that rut and move back into the parts of your writing you find most exciting.

Write every day, even on the days that you don’t feel like writing!

4. Talk with others about your work.

As a writer, talking with others about your writing is one of the most difficult things you can do. After all, your writing, especially personal writing, is a labor of love. Presenting your hard work and effort to someone else can be a vulnerable time. The fear of rejection by a potential audience is a scary thing for even the most experienced writers. But, as scary as it might sound, talking with someone about your story, especially someone who you know will support and hear you, is a useful way to reinvigorate yourself with excitement for your project’s future, as well as reminding you of what you’ve accomplished and what you set out to do in the beginning. By allowing others to be sounding boards for ideas and tracking progress, your mind will be able to examine your own work from more of an outside perspective than you previously thought possible and use that perspective to create new ideas and draft plans on where to go next.

Talk to someone about your writing!

Writing for yourself about a topic you’re passionate about can be one of the most rewarding experiences there is. I hope that these pieces of advice will help you as you begin, continue, or wrap up the writing project you’ve always dreamed of writing. If you ever find yourself needing a second pair of eyes to look over this writing, you can always schedule an appointment here at the Writing Center. You can come to the Writing Center for help with any writing, regardless of the writing is for an assignment or your personal use, and we will help you grow as a writer!


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