Trust the Process

We’ve all been there. It’s midnight the night before a big paper is due. The coffee is percolating 6 hours too early, and I know I’ve got at least 7 hours of work to do before I can submit this bad boy—bad, here, being the operative word. Despite my efforts and my long hours and my sleepless nights, I never got the grades I knew I could earn on my writing until I learned to slow down and trust the process.
Tired memes may be a result of sleepless nights.
I’m talking about the Writing Process: a step-by-step approach to writing that all good writers, in their best moments, employ in different and often unique ways. In its most basic form, the Writing Process starts with prewriting – the steps you take before you begin composing a draft. These steps might include jotting down your ideas, brainstorming, asking questions, doing research, reading, annotating texts, taking notes, concept mapping, outlining, and talking about your ideas with peers and colleagues.
After prewriting comes drafting, and this stage takes on innumerable forms. For most writers, the important thing is to get started. It has been well established that one cannot complete a piece of writing without first sitting down to write. The key is not to become attached to any of the material you produce in the drafting stage, because more likely than not it will get cut to shreds before the end. That’s because the next stage in the process is revision, and many a poorly written sentence has succumbed to its wrath.
Please, metaphorical wrath only.
Revision is a difficult task for almost all writers, in part because it’s nearly impossible to do it alone. Writers need interested, engaged, and knowledgeable readers with whom we can share our work and find out how it sounds in another person’s head. The goal of writing, after all, is to be read by someone else. But how to revise it to make it fit for human consumption? You need the writing process! And that’s where the Writing Centercomes in.
We will help you find it.
When you bring a draft of your work to the Writing Center, you’ll work with a peer who faces the same internal struggles as you do whenever they sit down to write. What shall I say? Will my professor think it’s dumb? What’s the best way to organize this discussion? Do my sources even support this thesis? How do I cite a documentary film? Do you think this cheese is safe to eat? While our Writing Consultants don’t claim to know the mysterious workings of professors’ minds, and we probably can’t advise you about the contents of your fridge, we can help with everything else.
So make an appointment at the Writing Center, no matter where you’re at in your work. Your consultant will be happy to talk with you about your thesis, your sources, your organizational strategy, your citations, and even your writing process. We can help you discover new strategies for building an essay from the ground up, and once your process is in place, you can slow down, too, and learn to trust where it will lead you. Writing will still be hard work, but with a little help from the Writing Center, you can get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and get your coffee drinking back in the morning where it belongs.

Coffee and pie not included.

About Mairin Barney

Mairin is the Writing Services Coordinator and Director of the UB Writing Center.

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