1. Samomo
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    Samomo Member

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    Writing on the spot

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Samomo, Aug 19, 2011.

    I notice that my writing significantly suffers when writing on the spot eg: in-class-essays/writing exercises in class which has led one of my teachers to believe I receive help or I plagarize my work.

    While at home I can throughly sort and sift through my many grammar mistakes, my word choices and sentence structure-- my in-class writing, or anything timed is absolutely horrible to the point where people suspect its not even the same person.

    How do I overcome this?
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This is a tough question for me because I usually have the opposite...I write better when I'm on very short deadlines (I do journalism and PR work so I'm used to this), and when I have all the time in the world, it's easy to do a half-ass job because the pressure isn't there.

    In your case, maybe brushing up on grammar and sentence structure would help a lot. You mentioned you like having the extra time to double-check those things, so being more confident and knowledgeable on them will boost your on-the-spot abilities.

    Practice is important too. The more you do it, the more you will get used to it. :)
     
  3. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    I find myself in agreement with Mallory. When I'm pressured to write something, I'll know that I'll at least finish it, and can get quite good quality at times from that too.
     
  4. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Get new teachers?

    There's a time and place for fast/free writing, and any teacher who is looking at it and grading/responding from a spelling or grammar sort of perspective is seriously lacking. Good teachers realize that a huge aspect of writing, if done right and given the proper effort, is in editing and revising. So, your teacher responding to your in-class writing seems a bit off.

    That said, practice and reading and studying will eventually improve on-the-spot writing quality, clarity and cohesiveness. I was terrible at it in high school, and not much improved years later when I finally started college, but by my last class--a lower division lit class filling a final requirement--my professor actually complimented me on how intact and polished my in-class writing was.

    So, yes, you can (and should) get better at it over time, and you seem to recognize it's a weakness, which all means you shouldn't stress about it and should just keep practicing and being aware of the issue. Awareness is often enough for you to train your eye and mind to find weaknesses and areas of improvement. And I wouldn't worry too much about teachers commenting on it, especially if they're trying to make the connection between sloppy in-class free-writing and polished turn-in assignments, as that's just asinine and bad teaching, if you ask me.

    Edit: also want to mention in-class sort of free writing is very different from short-deadline writing. Often a deadline looming will serve the purpose of kicking a writer's motor into gear. But even more often, an in-class or free-writing situation will serve the purpose of stressing out a writer and making them looking less competent than they really are. Very different types of writing, though I agree with you guys about short-deadline writing.
     
  5. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    I have to agree with the user above.

    I also believe there is indeed a distinction between short-deadline writing and in-class writing.
     
  6. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seconded.

    As for practice, maybe do it outside of class too. Get a friend or family member, or even a stranger if necessary, and ask them to give you a subject to write about in ten to twenty minutes or something. Despite sometimes poor quality writing, it can spark off some pretty good ideas for you to later work on.
     
  7. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I have the same problem, but in a different light. I can write with a deadline. It's being confined that gives me trouble. One time we were suppose to write about who our heroes were in our lives and our opinions on heroes. What the teacher really means is she only wants to hear positive things about heroes. I was considered a "disturbed" individual because I wrote negative things about hero figures.

    But the confines of the assignment didn't say to only write about nice things about heroes. But since the teacher was a wife of a firefighter she took my essay personally.

    I hate getting trapped in prompts. Because there is already a personal bias to it. It constricts my imaginative flow because people do not fully accept what I write. Not all the time. Like the WF short story and poetry contest are all right.

    But as an assignment I have gotten a lot of flack about in the past. I think, and it's coming to me in pieces here, one time I was sent to the counselors office because I reflected symptoms of a depressed person.
     
  8. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Find an RPI (Roleplay Intensive) MUD (Multi-user Dungeon -- i.e., a text-based mmo); there's a few out there that are still relatively active. Everything you do and say must be completely off the cuff, with at most just a few minutes to write something -- whether it be description, dialogue, action and so on -- I've gotten literally hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of practise with my writing this way, and as a result can spit out almost anything within the space of a few minutes. Whether it be a descriptive scene, a philosophical essay, a dull report, or a bit of action. Sure, it'll never be up to the same quality as work that I spend a little more time on, but I can keep the spelling errors and the grammar errors down to virtually nonexistent.

    I know, it's a bit of an odd recommendation, but I stand by it nonetheless.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Better yet, a live roleplay game. Check out gaming stores in your area to connect with other live roleplay gamers. A live game with face to face interaction will keep you on your toes and hone your improvisational skills.
     
  10. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    There must also be a distinction between on the spot creative writing and on the spot essay writing.

    I find it much easier to come up with a creative piece of writing on the spot than what I do with an essay.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i also agree with mallory's advice... study to upgrade your skills and practice...
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you're writing negative things about them, then I guess they're not your heroes. If the assignment was to write about your heroes, why would you write about people who aren't your heroes?

    Of course your teacher wants to hear positive things about heroes. That's because they're heroes. Heroes are defined by positive things. If you want to say negative things about heroes, then they're not heroes.
     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    This seems a bit black and white in thinking.

    For instance, one of my writing heroes is Charles Bukowski, and he's defined by a lot of negative things (many of which I don't personally condone). He also managed to be extremely prolific despite many of these negative things.

    If we think of it in terms of characters, a hero that is perfect is often cliched and boring. It takes negatives to put the positive into perspective, bad to make the good relevant, failing to make overcoming and redemption have meaning, etc.
     
  14. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    Perhaps what he meant is that he wrote skeptically about the hero concept in general, which is reasonable.
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this just any class or a creative writing class? If it's creative writing, remind your teacher of the word 'draft'. If it's not, maybe you just need to sit down with the teacher and explain how you write, and see if there isn't some kind of compromise available.

    I was fortunate in that I had the mechanics down pretty well for these sorts of things - but inevitably I would think of the much better ideas and phrasing after class...
     
  16. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    A good way to practice this might be to set some sort of subject you have some knowledge of, and a twenty minute timer or something of the sort, and write. Do it every day until you notice an improvement.
     

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