Wednesday, October 20, 2010

you have to show up

"Eighty percent of success is showing up" -- Woody Allen

It's easy when you first have a dream. You can think about it all day long and as long as that dream stays in your head, it's easy. There are no roadblocks. There are no disappointments. There are no setbacks. Life is good in your head.

Take that dream out of your head, though, and all sorts of things can happen. Roadblocks. Disappointments. Setbacks. Oh, it would be so easy to quit. You could quit and stuff that dream to the back of your closet, back where the ugly and out-of-date clothes are kept, and you wouldn't have to look at it anymore. You could go make yourself a cup of coffee. Raid the Halloween candy. Turn on the television. (Because not much demands less of your brain than SYTYCD, right?)

But then you'd never get to experience turning your dream into reality.

You've got to find ways to continue making progress towards your goal. Even on the busiest, most difficult days, log in and see what's going on in your classroom, or send your professor a note. Both of those are progress -- they keep your head in the game.

Remember. The process is not linear. You will move forwards and backwards and sideways. Your dreams will, too. Shifty little things.

But as long as you show up everyday, you'll get there. As long as you don't disappear and make it impossible for others to help you and encourage you.

So show up. Even on the tough days, for just a few minutes, find a way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

what's the point of composition, anyhow?

I know, I know. You likely didn't take College Composition because you wanted to be a writer. You were here because it was required. And if you had any goals for this session, maybe it was to get an A, or a B, or maybe it was to pass so you wouldn't have to take the course again. In any respect, you likely had a completely quantifiable goal. I'm all for that. And by Wednesday, you'll know how you did, and I hope that you made it.

But just hear me out about this writing thing. There's more to it than many give it credit for. Writing is important. It's taking the mess of your brain and dumping it out on paper and trying to make sense out of the gibberish. It's how we learn. And it's how we realize how smart we actually are. It's how we connect the dots. Writing isn't what we sit down to do once we're experts. It's how we become experts.

So if there's one skill I want all College Composition students to take with them after the dust from the Argument Essay, the Definition Essay, the Cause and Effect Essay, the Persuasive Essay, and the Narrative Essay has all settled, it's to continue to think critically, to approach problems with an analytical mind, to be creative, and to push yourself to not only find new connections in life, or science, or art, but to find the best method (the best words, the best sentences, the best structure) to explain your new ideas.

So happy writing, and happy reading (because that's how we become smarter and how we become better writers -- two birds with one stone), and happy writing again and again.

Good luck, everyone!