If you follow me on Twitter, then you know that I’ve been writing an essay. Actually, you probably know about every single essay I’ve written since I got Twitter. Because, well, they hurt.
My name is Julia. And I’m afraid of essays.
Salman Rushdie said that “writing is a constant struggle against one’s own inadequacy.” Truer words were never spoken (and I must say, knowing that the likes of Mr. Rushdie suffer from the problem makes it a little easier to deal with. In theory.). For me, essay writing is a mix of frustration, fear, and, well, Facebook.
Part of the problem is that I hate outlining. I’ve never been comfortable with it – I remember how much harder stories were to write in grade nine, when our teachers forced us to hand in outlines. Outlines are stifling, and getting from point to point in paragraph form is excruciating. The problem is, how do you write a 10, 20, 30, 40 page paper, involving a huge amount of sources, without an outline? Writing the first draft feels like swimming against a current.
And, somewhere in there, the fear sets in. Sometimes it’s that my ideas aren’t good enough. Sometimes it’s that my essay won’t be long enough. Sometimes it’s that I’m not writing what I want to say. Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m afraid of, I just am. And so I stop writing. I go on Facebook, I check twitter, I email, I check Facebook again, I tweet about checking Facebook. I write blog posts at 20 to midnight on the day the paper is due, instead of actually finishing the damn thing. I have no idea how to deal with this. No matter how much I plan my essays, how much I remember that this is the curve every single time, the process never changes.
The really weird thing is, I love it. Not the outlines, fear, and procrastination, but writing itself. Even though I’m at the fear stage of the cycle right now (hence the blog post), I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing (in the long term, that is. It’s late. I’d much rather be sleeping.). I love researching and building my essays, and I get a thrill form the last, final, round of edits, when it finally becomes moulded into something I can put my name to. I love getting to create something new.
I just wish it were a little bit easier. Right now it’s bad enough, but I can only imagine the problems this is going to cause when i’m writing 50-100 page theses… this year? a year after that?