Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making Time

One of the final requirements for a writing major at my school is a class called "Senior Project." Each section is organized slightly differently by the professor who runs it, but what it boils down to is a semester long project of the student's own choosing where they work one-on-one with a professor, rather than in a workshop class setting. It's meant to let us figure out how to handle being a self motivated writer, rather than a writer spurred on by homework assignments and writing prompts.

I am loving every second of this.

There's one piece of writing advice that makes me feel incredibly guilty whenever I see it, and that's "write every day." I cringe when I see it. I actually do. And here's the thing: I do write nearly every day (and the days I'm not writing, I'm reading). I just don't write for MYSELF every day. I'm an overachiever times ten when it comes to grades, and so schoolwork has always come first. But I'm a writing major - I'm always writing something, whether that something is a journal entry or review for class, a literary analysis, an essay, a research paper, or a short story. There's always something.

And yet, even knowing that, even being well aware that I was writing, was learning how to master this craft by doing it and doing it, I still feel guilty about not writing for myself every day. Senior Project is giving me permission to do that. Because it is for a class - a very important class for my major - I structured my whole schedule around having time to write. I am determined to finish this draft this semester, and I'm well on my way to accomplishing that. Because I know myself, and I've MADE the time to write while appeasing my obsessively-good-student side.

I think that's part of the "write every day, make the time to do it" advice that gets left out a lot. You have to really know yourself and how you work in order to carve out that time. If you will actually be miserable if you get up one minute earlier than you have to, don't make your writing time in the morning. Make the time, but do it in a way you can actually keep to that time without torturing yourself.

The point of Senior Project is for us to motivate ourselves, rather than having a professor motivate us. I'm already a very self-motivated writer; I've written novels before this one, I know how I write, I know how this all works. I'm just so glad to finally get the chance, in an academic setting, to really dig into a project for an entire semester, and not feel that I have to prioritize homework over what I want to write.  Because what I want to write IS homework.

And hopefully my project advisor won't be too upset when I come up with an entire novel's worth of material...

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