Student Snippets


The Particularities of Writing for People

As I mentioned last week, April seems to be the month of literally everything being due.

My biggest struggle--like every semester--is trying to learn to write for particular professors. I have my own writing style. I use it when I blog. I use it when I do my NaNoWriMo months. I use it in emails and Facebooks posts. I write the same way pretty much everywhere. But when I have to write for class, I try to spruce it up. Most people realize that you speak in different "registers" depending on who you're speaking with: friends, family, professors, clergy, strangers. This also tends to happen with writing. When I write for school, I try to focus on certain facets of writing which I pretty much ignore otherwise. These facets are generally concepts I've been taught in school: don't use "I" in academic papers, don't end sentences with prepositions, make sure you have a thesis, avoid passive voice, and other "standard English" rules.

However, one thing I always seem to forget is the subjectiveness of writing and the ultimate determination of the professor. Since I have my undergraduate degree in English Teaching you would think I'd remember this from my own days of grading essays. I don't. I also read a lot of young adult books. Young adult books have the benefit of not needing to be pretentious. They can drop literary writing styles without doing away with excellent, fluid writing. Sure, there are also books which are simply not well-written, but there are so many books which just use a different style than adults are used to. I think I tend to adopt more of a YA style of writing than an "adult" style.

Professors get to judge whether something is well-written or not. They can make assumptions on how much time and effort a student put into a piece based on their subjective decision about the quality of the work. This has created a mindset of "writing for a professor". As I mentioned last week, I have 24 papers due in one class. I really need to know how to write for this specific professor. But I don't. She's given me some feedback which is really valuable. However, overall I still don't feel like I know what she's looking for.

So here's the revolutionary idea I'm going to use to write my essays. I'm trying to write what the papers deserve. That's really what professors want, right? They want to know that the assignment was undertaken with full dedication and seriousness. They want us to apply the concepts we've learned to show that we have, in fact, learned the concepts. So instead of focusing on my professor, I'm focusing on the work itself. Ultimately, it's the best I can do. Wish me luck.

All the Best - Hayley

YA Literature