How to work through writers block....

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
How to work through writers block....
13
Thu, 10-24-2013 - 12:07pm

DD 16 is really struggling with college essays. She's an excellent writer generally but she's been working on it for months and it's just not happening. She is the most expressive person I know. She loves and loaths. Nothing inbetween. Everyone ELSE knows how she feels... it's all over her face, her body, her voice and yet, she's never been capable of "telling" you how she feels (seriously, she could be sobbing with a dead kitten in her hand and still not be able to come up with the word "sad.") We've tried to help her work through it over the years but here we are with her first deadline next week and the main essay not done. Well, she has an essay done and it's "OK" but it's not her voice. It is not the person any of us actually know. 

I thought we made some headway this week. I told her to write a story about herself in 3rd person and she did a beautiful job. It sounded like her. I cared about the person in her story. Then she tried to adapt it into an essay and she fell apart.

She's stressed. I know she's stressed. We can put off the deadline next week but honestly, I'm not sure doing that now will help her. She'll only feel like more of a loser for not making it happen and it will extend this for months longer. I just need some ideas to help her work through this if anyone has ideas.

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 10-25-2013 - 11:49am

I feel for her.  I hope she feels better about the essay  process soon.  My daughter (who has dyslexia/dysgraphia) struggled with hers for weeks before deciding to submit a video "essay", because she was asking for accommodations for dyslexia/dysgraphia anyway.  (At first the college was going to require her to go through a complete intelligence/personality evaluation as well, but after she'd been there a couple of weeks, nothing more was said about that...)  Now that she's in the first semester of college English, I don't think she'd have any problem with an entrance essay!

I think the "college essay" is actually a lot more of a learning experience for the applicant than it is valuable for the college.  As long as the essay is well organized and coherent and not a boilerplate and not plagiarized from "100 Stupendous Essays That Will Get You Into College With A Full Ride" type books, it will do the job.  And there is no essay that will get a "full ride" anyway...admissions officers know that essays are often ghostwritten or at least have substantial input/editing from parents and high school guidance counselors and the like.

Deborah

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Thu, 10-24-2013 - 7:38pm

Thanks Ashmama. It's good to hear from BTDT parents. Sounds like we've had all the same conversations. It's just so frustrating. She can put off the ED but in reality, putting off the essay will only compile her stress. Our state publics require 2 essays and are due in November. Plus, she needs the common app essay for another school that has an early cut-off if you want to be considered for scholarships. Others must think she's bee procrastinating but honestly, she's been working for months with nothing but a stack of abandoned drafts to show for it.

I know she's been writing some spoken word poetry lately. Going through some old work might be useful though. We'll give that a try!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Thu, 10-24-2013 - 2:35pm

Hugs to your D. Mine went through the same thing last year. She is also an excellent writer, but when it came to the essay, she struggled. It's the pressure. They think they have to show the sum total of who they are in one almighty brilliant essay, and everything they read and hear just confirms this. That's enough to stop anyone's creative flow.

I don't honestly think D's college essays were the most brilliant thing she'd ever written, but they were good (at least the ones she read to us). While she was struggling, we just encouraged her to free write about anything other than herself--poetry, song lyrics, prose--just to remind herself that she could still be creative when she wasn't forced to.  Then we reminded her (over and over) that she wasn't required to present her entire self, just a small part of herself so the people reading it would hear her voice.

I know she also just reread essays she'd already written for school, including English and history papers just to remind herself of the kind of thinking she could do when the stakes didn't seem so high. She decided not to apply ED or EA anywhere, so her deadline wasn't as early, and this allowed her more time to NOT think about the essay. In the end, she got them done, and your D will, too. It's not the end of the world if she applies RD everywhere. She will get in!

Pages