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Recovering: A College Grad’s Writing Struggles

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Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

College destroyed my ability to tell a story! Four years of page & word requirements will teach you one very worthless lesson ‘filler junk craptastic elongated word usage’. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said,” Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” If you’ve ever had to write a 20+ page term paper you’ll know there is no time for perfection when minimum requirements leave you stuffing your creation with bland white rice filler like a Chipotle burrito!  Instead of creating a masterpiece of tasty learning you’ve created a carb filled turd devoid of vegetable & meaty goodness.

As a member of online community, writing a blog felt like a must do! My attempts failed over and over again. Blog writing was a dull and boring task. Then I discovered Sims 3 Legacy stories! These are stories that Sims 3 players write about their Sims lives. Here is a great example, Ballad of ChinMan. This is done in other games as well like Skyrim. What fun this seemed! I decided to give this a try myself.

I took screen shots & started writing away. When I reviewed my stories for editing they were stale compared to ChinMan. Why was this so? What was I doing wrong? My characters were fun & I had a plot. I started comparing my stories to the popular and entertaining ones I loved like Alive & Kev. There it was in plain sight the ‘filler junk craptastic elongated word usage’ of COLLEGE! The best web tales are not long fat ramblings rants of a term paper. They are told in quick one or two line captions.

Lets face it our online culture has no attention span for epic ballads. This is a community born of fast clicking, skim reading, and spark notes! Memes rule here with their short to the point captions.  How many people stepped out of YouTube loops when they introduced the commercials? No one wants to dedicate time to a commercial. To quote epic dad, “too long did not listen.” For better or worse the internet is closing in on this perfection of nothing left to take away.

How do we fix academic damage to writing ?

1. Delete junk words! They are junk if they add no value! Some might even harm your sentence turning it into a vague or questionable statement. If you want to be heard speak with conviction! Examples junk words  are: may, perhaps, really, just, sometimes, maybe

2. Backspace those boring sentences! When you are reviewing your draft be mindful of the question does this line add value? Is it adding concrete to your palace of creation or is it cluttering up your work? If its clutter take them away! Your final product should ALWAYS be shorter than the first draft.

3. Avoid academic & clinical terms if it does not fit your audience. Are you writing a story, web comic, or blog?  What is your goal? Is your focus on entertainment, inspiration, or humor? If so overly complex word usage and excessive jargon will not help you not capture an audience.

4. Choose the absurd! This is a general life lesson to run with. When you have two choices the safe / no risk / not embarrassing / boring option or the completely absurd choice whose risks are not physically harmful pick it! I promise it will make a story worth telling.


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