I’ve been at University for about 2 months now. That seems like a really short time now that I think of it. Still, we’re just about starting to get into the swing of things, and that means assignments.
I always preferred exams to assignments, because I work best in short bursts. Having to dedicate time and effort to a single purpose over a longer period of time? I just plain suck at it. Naturally that’s one thing I’m trying to overcome, and writing a novel seems like one of the more extreme forms of practice – so why not?
Meanwhile, whether I like them or not, the assignments come. They barely register at first. Then they become a vague nagging at the back of the mind. Then they become an intense source of worry. Then they become an all-nighter rush job. Well, actually, it hasn’t got to that last stage for a while. I’ve been getting much better. Still, my window of productivity tends to lie in the week before the due date. I just can’t seem to push myself to get things done any sooner. That doesn’t stop me worrying about those assignments, mind – I just can’t build up the will or co-ordination to actually work on them.
Writing the first few words of any assignment seems to take up about half the total time I spend. Word count is no longer the issue, at least not in the same way it used to be. Once my thoughts are suitably organised, the words overflow. And I mean OVERflow; the next challenge is the struggle of picking and pruning, sometimes deleting full paragraphs that I spent a good deal of effort thinking up. That’s never easy. And don’t even get me started on the references.
Yes, don’t get me started, because I’m getting started purely of my own volition. To me the references and bibliography are an exercise in arbitrary rulesets and utter tedium. That arbitrary ruleset may be more useful once I internalise when exactly you’re supposed to use a capital letter or full stop, but that thought is cold comfort at the moment. Can’t say I fancy the prospect of getting all hot and bothered that someone didn’t punctuate their references just so. I already have plenty of things to care too much about, thank you very much!