Monday, April 11, 2016

Frustrations in Writing

Confession: I forgot I had a blog.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. I forgot that I had so many blog posts. And by "so many," I mean the number I have, as opposed to like, three.

I remembered because I had a thought that I wanted to explore and I didn't want to post it on Facebook. The thought was about writing.

I've never struggled much with writing. Sure, creative fiction writing isn't necessarily my area of strength (I get bored with trying to make the story fit together well; it's tough to get an amorphous picture out of my head and translate it into words). But I've been generally well-skilled in clearly communicating my thoughts to others.

One of the things I do to earn a little money (to then drop into the gaping hole of my student loans) is independent statistics consulting. Once in a while, I get a referral from a colleague who works with students from online universities. I do want to say here that I have nothing against students from online universities or the universities themselves. What I have noticed is that these students tend to be simultaneously extremely passionate about their area of study as well as terrified of statistics. A few also struggle to clearly explain their thoughts in writing.

I get frustrated when I edit these documents. The stats part, not so much. I know that stats is a crazy area that few people are skilled at and fewer people enjoy. But when I read the literature reviews, I often feel the impulse to smack my palm to my forehead and groan. (Sometimes I do this. My cat becomes concerned when I do.)

But when I think, "Goodness me, why did they just repeat themselves again?" or "HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO CITE IN APA WHEN YOU'RE GETTING YOUR PH.D?", I remind myself how much more frustrating it must be to be one of my clients--to be so passionate about a subject and not be able to clearly show others why it is so important. To see these comments and edits scattered throughout their papers with thinly veiled frustration and work up the energy to try again.

It's gotta suck.

A couple years ago, my sister talked me into writing for NaNoWriMo (and by this I mean that I agreed to do it when she asked me) and I didn't finish. After maybe 6,000-10,000 words, I gave up--it was too annoying and I had too many other things that I a) wanted to do and b) was more skilled at. But these clients keep trying. I give them their documents full of edits and they make them. It's an impressive thing that both keeps me from face-palming too hard and inspires me to keep trying in my own life. Because these students will finish these dissertations and goodness me, they'll have earned those doctorates.

Something else that I struggle with is ending stories, posts, or articles. Sometimes I work on this, sometimes I don't. Today, I think I won't.