I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Your peers have been
there. Heck, even your professors have been there.
We’ve all been given a task that seems impossible or
inconvenient to do when we much rather attend to the hustle and bustle of our
busy, hectic lives. Having to write an essay or figure out a writing assignment
when you would prefer to attend to your own things can be an awful feeling. To
make matters worse, writing can really
seem impossible when you aren’t sure how to begin doing so. But nothing takes
the cake more than telling yourself you’re bad at it.
In my experience working here at the Writing Center, I
cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard writers preface our session with,
“I’m a bad writer so…I need help”. While it depends on the individual I’m
working with, it’s as if I can almost hear the defeat in their voice. Sometimes
this mentality can go further and harm the individual, and it is seen in their
writing. The draft screams, “I’m not good at this. I don’t really want to do it
anyway, so I’m not going to try”. While I’ll admit at least with this latter
mentality there is an actual physical draft to assess, I understand why for
some students this fear can be paralyzing.
Why should you begin something you’re afraid you’ll fail at?
Why even start if you’re not going to do well? While some of us may not think
these thoughts consciously, there is always a lingering doubt that we might
never attain a certain standard that we’d like to achieve (while on the other
hand, there are some writers who think anything they create is a flawless gift
to humanity...but that’s another story).
I’m here to tell you there is not a thing anyone creates
that does not have a flaw. There are the gifted (our Shakespeares and
Hemingways of the world) and then there’s us. But the thing that we have in
common is that we can always be better. The most important way to ensure that
you get better is to start. It’s easy to get caught up with seemingly more
important things just like it’s easy to procrastinate and avoiding tasks until
they are no longer avoidable. Although it would be nice to hear that you could
get through life easy that way, it just isn’t the truth. But taking the first
step to becoming a better writer is actually an easy one: permission.
You should permit yourself to turn off that voice. That voice that admits defeat before you’ve even gotten a chance to start. That voice that prefaces your abilities with an “I’m not good at this so why even try?” Don’t let being “bad” at something be the rationale that devalues your work. You deserve better. Even though it seems the writing assignments you do won’t affect your life down the road, the mentality you develop now can carry you far. It’s okay to not be the best at something just like it’s okay to want to be better. The most important thing I can advise you to do is to just start.
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