Friday, September 16, 2011

V for Verbose (B for Bad)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you already know that I tend to err on the side of being verbose. I like words. A lot! And, I like using words to paint very detailed, very vivid pictures. I try to be concise and to contain my thoughts. But once I start writing, my mind speeds off into a thousand directions, and my fingers fly along the keyboard as I try to keep up with my thoughts. It has become apparent that this is a quality that will not exactly benefit me in social work school.

Of the two papers I’ve received back so far, the only “negative” feedback I’ve gotten is basically that my papers need to be shorter. The assignments have been to write three page papers (typed, double spaced, which really isn’t that much when you think about it), and the papers I’ve submitted have been 4-6 pages in length. I’ve officially been confronted with my first real challenge so far in social work school, and it is not at all what I expected it would be!

You see, when I wrote papers in community college, the instructors usually set the page limits as a minimum. It was implied that one should feel more than welcome to go beyond that, if need be, and I almost always did. Heck! For the sociology assignment I did this past summer, I was to write 10 two page papers, and even though I didn't want to write those papers, each of those turned out to be in the 3-6 page range. Clearly, I don’t have a problem expressing myself. However I apparently do have a problem doing it in a succinct manner. This is obviously something I’ll need to work on.

If I’m being honest, it hurts my soul just a little bit. I feel stifled and constricted, as though wrapped in a turtleneck three sizes too small but with an extra long neck that goes up over my head. I honestly nearly cried last night when I read the instructor’s note on the last page of my paper: “The only feedback I really have is pay attention to page length.” That paper was only four pages. I only went over by one, and really it wasn't even a whole page (more like a paragraph, really)!

I just can’t get this to make sense, especially considering that these papers are to be reflective in nature. Last week, I had to read three chapters for this particular class and then write a reflective paper on what I learned. So, what you’re telling me is, out of over 100 pages of reading, I’m supposed to grab on to just one idea (maybe two ideas) and write a very quick, only surface level reflection? Well, what’s the point of that?! If I’m reflecting, I’m baring my entire soul. I have nothing to hide. Also, some of the stuff we're reading is so interesting and inspiring that it's hard not to find half a dozen to a dozen passages that really resonate with you.

I guess I’ll have to learn to rein it in a bit and to reflect a little less. This week’s Learning Moment paper assignment clearly states at the top: “This should not be more than 2 pages long.” But…(lip quivering)…but…(small tear)…BUT there are three questions to answer! Annnnnnd the first one has three parts to it. I die!!

I suppose this isn’t all bad. (That’s called reframing.) My soul won’t be completely asphyxiated. I still have this blog, and I still have you, lovely reader. It has now become more a priority for me than ever to blog on a regular basis. I need this outlet. In fact, I already have two or three post ideas I've jotted down in the past week alone. I look forward to interacting with you more as I share with you on a more regular basis.

What say you, lovely reader? Do you have any advice on how I can be more concise?

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  1. I am speculating here, but I'm guessing that the teachers are probably just wanting students to follow directions more than anything. One of my pet peeves when I was student teaching was how students wouldn't just follow basic instructions.

    If everyone writes a paper that's longer than the requirement, think of how much more reading (and time) it is for that teacher overall. I don't think it's anything personal and if that's the only critique, it leads me to believe the teacher/s just don't want to have to read more than they have to....again, just guessing :-)

  2. I agree, Kathie. That's exactly what I thought too. Now that I know those ARE the directions and NOT the minimums (like I was used to), I should be able to stick to them. I just really hate that reflection papers are so short. Not much room for reflection, you know? ;-)

  3. I can totally relate! Except I'm the opposite-when I started writing, it was with a journalistic tone, which is concise and too the point. The only way I was able to break it was lots of practice. Some teachers didn't mind so much, while others really did, so I just had to fit my writing to specific teachers/classes. Kind of a pain, but it worked for the most part!

    Good luck!


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