My First Semester Back

negativespace-4I have been busy with school and I have not had a lot of chances to post here. This semester I’ve written close to 150 pages, and read over 4,000. This has been the busiest semester that I have ever had in all of my schooling…and I loved it.

Looking back it is a blur. But, there are a few lessons that I took from this semester.

  1. Prayer is key: Because most of the heavy reading was front loaded I had to read a lot of pages some days. For about four weeks straight I was knocking out 150 pages a day. Some days I wanted to quite (just for the day). Other days I couldn’t focus. I turned to prayer for help. My strength was renewed, I learned more, and most importantly, I felt closer to God in the process. There is a fear that studies will cause us to dry up spiritually. But, if you approach it as worship towards God and look to him for help, study can be one of the most fruitful spiritual disciplines you practice. It was for me this semester.
  2. Review my reading: Speed reading is great. I found that I could knock out 150 pages a day because I had developed speed reading skills. The problem…retention. When I arrived at class I found it took me a few minutes to remember everything about the books I had read. I had underlined well (usually whenever the professor said, “Did you guys get his main point here…” it was something I had underlined as a main point), but my mind had not processed everything together. I need to find a good way to review in order to get a grasp for the author’s work.
  3. My writing/researching system works: I wrote  around 150 pages this semester. That is the most I have ever written in a semester. Not all of it was research laden. Some of it was just personal reflection. But, half of it was based on research. This would have crushed me previously. But now, I have a method and it works. My writings may not show it this semester, but, I tested my method and I can see that it is a good one for me (I didn’t get to edit as much as I would have liked and one of my arguments needed to mature before I wrote it, but the deadline was looming). It isn’t perfect, but my method helped me write quickly.
  4. Focus more on my writing: I use too many words that have no funciton….in fact, I wanted to write, “I use way too many words…” I have to trim it down. I also have to state my argument clearly.I don’t feel confident in my arguments, and I worry about how I will appear to my audience. Zinsser, in his book, On Writing Well encourages writers to do the opposite. I think he had people like me in mind.

Therefore, a fundamental rule is: be yourself No rule, however, is harder to follow. It requires the writer to do two things which by his metabolism are impossible. He must relax and he must have confidence. (21)

 

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