Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Habits are Hard to Break: Sept. 30 Prompt

Old Habits are Hard to Break
            Attending an advanced research and literary criticism class was required by my university, and I took it my junior year. In this class, the professor made sure to teach us how to write “good” research papers. I use the parentheses because I look back on that paper and realize how poorly it was written. However, I was rather proud that I could now write a research paper. Little did I know, though, that particular research paper would be the basis of all my other research papers that followed. That is not to say I have only written on one topic; instead, it means that the way I chose the topic, researched, and wrote that first research paper still typifies my current research papers.
            When trying to figure out a research topic, I thought about the criticism we had discussed in class that interested me. However, I kept thinking about the topic, and thinking, and thinking. One day, as I was thinking again, I realized that this research paper was due in a week or less, and I needed a rough draft soon. Panic mode kicked in. I had been meeting with my professor throughout the semester, but I kept changing my topic and so the meetings were ineffective. After having a brief panic attack, I selected a topic and solidified it in my head as the only option now. Once I had selected the topic, I met with the professor and her aide several times to discuss my progress on the paper. Luckily, the paper was completed on time.
            After four semesters of my undergrad and two semesters as a grad student, I still seem to mimic this type of writing behavior, no matter how hard I try to break myself of the habit. Since that semester, I have written several research papers, and they exhibit the same characteristics: rushed, a little disjointed, and disappointing to me. This semester, unfortunately, is not all that different. For the four classes I have attended this semester, three of them have required a research paper or writing portfolio. Despite my best effort, I pushed and pushed back a research paper for one of these classes until it was almost too late. Finally, the day before the paper was due, I sat down, wrote it, and turned it in “on time.” However, as I think about that paper, I am disappointed with it and with myself for not putting in the effort I know I could have.
            As a graduate student now, I know I should be more responsible in my writing since the papers I write have the possibility of being published in scholarly journals and what not. I could have published some as an undergrad, but I was not aware of that at that time. Anyway, if there is one lesson I need to learn with regards to writing essays and papers, it is that I should not procrastinate the work until the end. 


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