Write Like You’re Getting Paid to Do It

New topic for Sara D vs. Reality…whining about writing for a grade.

So I’m trying to put together a speech for one of my classes.  I am not having luck with my topic research.  What I’m trying to do is a speech on the politics of literature, specifically dealing with the historical persecution of authors, with a focus on how and why a government decides a work is subversive.  It isn’t going well.  I can find lots of specific examples, but almost nothing in the way of an overarching, comprehensive look at the subject.  And for a 15-minute speech, I’m not going to be able to turn 500 examples into my own overarching, comprehensive study, because that would be a freaking thesis project, not a 15-minute speech.  I am frustrated.

Mostly I’m frustrated because I was excited about this topic, and now I’ll probably have to change the focus of my speech so I can use the TONS of stuff I’ve found on censorship and book burning and so on.  Same general topic, just not the angle I was going for.  I suppose the moral of the story is that, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, prose or speech, sometimes what you set out to write just doesn’t work, and you have to be flexible about it.  Even if you have to pout about it for a day or two before getting back to work.  And maybe it’s a good idea, if you’re not writing for school, to pretend that you are.  Yes.  Pretend you have a professor and your grade depends on getting over yourself and writing it anyway, and your financial aid for next year depends on your grade, and if you don’t follow through your GPA will suffer and no one will give you any money for school.  Pretend those things whenever you want to sulk about your writing.  It does wonders for lighting a fire under a writer’s ass.

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2 thoughts on “Write Like You’re Getting Paid to Do It

  1. I can see where this would be tough. In my English classes, we just lightly touch upon the “Red Scare” and how many writers, movie directors, and actors were subjected to a 20th century witch hunt. However, we don’t really go too deeply into it but move on to Rod Serling and has sneaky way of writing about social issues through his screenplays.

    I think you make a good point when suggesting we all write as if a grade depends upon it. Now that I only write for myself, I just don’t hold myself as accountable. Hell, I hardly write at all! If I looked at this like an assignment for a class I had in school, I’m sure I would be a little more motivated.

    Thanks for the great “fire-lighting” idea!

  2. It’s so hard to narrow down a topic like censorship without just focusing on one thing (the Red Scare or the Nazi book fires, etc.)! It takes so many forms and has been done all through history for all kinds of reasons by all kinds of governments and/or organizations. My original focus for it was specifically exiled writers, but even that is way too broad to cover with any kind of significance in 15 minutes. I just read incessantly on the subject and try to think which stuff I can construct into a cohesive, interesting speech.

    As for writing, yeah…it’s like the more freedom I have with it the less accountable I hold myself! If I’m actively working on a long-term project, I can hold myself to goals really well, but catch me between projects and I’m lazy as hell! Haha. 🙂

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