Monday, March 10, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Hating On My Writing Assignment: Part II – Think Outside the Assignment

In Part I of this blog topic, we gave you some suggestions for using the buzzing in your own brain to help you get interested in potentially uninteresting essay topics. But there’s a great big world outside your brain! And a great big world outside your assignment, too. So, take a look at these three ideas for ways to step out into that world and stop hating on your assignment:

Do a little research even if the assignment doesn’t ask for it. You might not want to hear this, but sometimes lack of interest in a topic is born of lack of knowledge. Maybe you just don’t know enough yet. A great way to become interested in your topic is to become educated about it. The more you learn, the more likely you are to find something that intrigues you. Be open to seeing the assignment in a new way based on the information you gather.

Academic doesn’t necessarily mean high-brow. If you are intimidated by a topic because you believe that it is too hard or that it flies over your head, don’t despair! It is a mistake to think that you must write heady prose about heady topics in order for your essay to have any academic value. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why not take a look at that low-brow magazine you love so much and let it help you pose questions and answers about the culture you live in? Turn an analytical eye on anything from Britney to bling – it’s all potential fodder for intellectual inquiry.

Answer the assignment guidelines, but make it your own. Yes, you need to address the question or problem the instructor gives you, otherwise you could face a failing grade. But, don’t let that discourage you from looking at the question or problem creatively.

Once upon a time, a student was given an assignment that asked him to come up with his own personal definition of nature. “I don’t like nature, but I do love technology” the student thought to himself. Instead of “checking out” and writing a ho-hum paper, the student decided to write about how technology has changed the ways we think about and define nature. He used the examples of artificial beaches and other manmade, technologically enhanced sites of “nature” as his examples. He loved his paper and got a good grade. The End.


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