Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Student Writer During Midterms Week

There is a reason for this list, which I shall explain at the end.

1. Alarm goes of at 9 am. In spite of having gone to bed before midnight for once in your life, feel like you haven't slept in years and want nothing more than to fall back to sleep.

2. Get up. Check email. Make tea. Eat granola bar. Get dressed.

3. Go to Fiction class. Make comments in workshops, even though most of the class is too burnt out from midterms to say anything.

4. At end of Fiction class, hear someone say to the professor "do you want our journal entries?" You have completely forgotten about said journal entries. Cry a little inside. Beg professor for extension. Get extension.

5. Go back to dorm room. Panic about Italian midterm. Eat lunch. Panic more.

6. Take Italian midterm. Not actually too bad.

7. Go back to dorm room. Write a couple of poems of questionable quality for class the next day.

8. Go to history. Hand in midterm. Relax for a few seconds before remembering to panic about the journal entries you didn't do.

9. Eat dinner.

10. Go back to dorm room. Eat chocolate. Write poems and read articles for composition theory.

11. Somehow it is 10:45. Look at journal entries. Realize that you had this exact same assignment for this professor last year, and you now have to redo the whole thing in two days. Bang head on book.

12. Start writing journal entries. Hope your parody of Hills Like White Elephants is bad enough.

13. Shower.

14. Go to bed. At 1:45 am.

15. Alarm goes off at 9. Get up. Make tea. Write blogpost. Start all over.

So there is a reason behind this list. That reason is less that I am extremely annoyed with myself for having completely forgotten that one assignment (I never forget things like that) and more that I have been very busy lately. I had a show last weekend and this week is midterms.

And when I get busy like this, I don't have any time to write for myself. And whenever that happens, I feel guilty. Every day I don't open up my Word Document (which has been so long that it is no longer on my pulldown 'open file' list in Word), I feel like a bad person. I get that nagging little voice in the back of my head "you'll never be a real writer if you don't write every day." "You have to MAKE time, if this is what you really want to do." "Who needs sleep anyway?" "Write! Write! Write!"

And you know what? I'm beginning to think that's not fair. Sure, writers need to write. Obviously. But sometimes things happen. Sometimes you're busy. Sometimes you have a show one week and midterms the next, with 220 pages of history reading to do in between. Sometimes there really is no time, and we need to focus on the things in our life that aren't writing.

That should be okay.

So I am hereby giving myself (and you all) permission to go easy on myself (and yourselves). I give permission to stop stressing out about meeting wordcount goals. It'll get finished. You know you will finish it. Right now there are other things you need to focus on, and that's all right. You focus on those things, and when school/work/family/whatever calms down, you will make the time. You will get it done. Just do what you need to do, and don't worry about being a "real writer," because you are. Taking a break doesn't change that.


  1. I really like this post, and I empathize with you SO much. Luckily, school is slow for me at the moment, but in the next two weeks my schedule will look just like years. I remember during one crazy week I had to put all my assignments in a folder for creative writing - something that wouldn't have taken me longer than a minute - and I COMPLETELY forgot. Like you, with the journal entries, I never forget stuff like that, and I was so surprised at myself. But that's what happens when you get busy like that.

    University can overwork you, and it can be hard to be a writer on top of that. Sometimes, writing helps me deal with the stress of school, and others, I can't stand to look at anymore words. I agree that it's fine to take a break. During midterm and exam season, I make a decision not to write--even when I want to--because my time would always be better spent studying or relaxing. And sure, it might be harder to get back into my novel after the break, but the distance always makes me excited about it.

    So yes, take a break. And take some breaks from studying when you can, too. Good luck with everything! :)

  2. Just what I needed to hear - thanks Caitlin :)

  3. I TOTALLY get this post! I'm a history/secondary education major and this is pretty much my life. So. Don't feel guilty about not writing. Because there are other things going on too. And when you can open your Word document, it makes it that much sweeter. =)