What are some tips/advice on taking multiple heavy writing courses in college?
I am going into my junior year as an architecture major. I have been taking classes that do not require much writing. However, I will be taking three writing based classes (Greek Civilization, Junior Writing, Medieval Art History) and I am afraid it will be too much writing for me. Is there any advice? #college #writing
Well, another fine question about learning how to write well, more than well, if you wish, including those folks not planning to major in English, or some other writing related academic category, like screenwriting or journalism. In this case, an architecture major and junior undergraduate student poses the question, with the intent of honing is writing skills, that is "What can he do to enhances his chances of success, when taking multiple heavy writing courses in college?"
Now, speaking with my own writing voice and specifically addressing Benny, he gives us the specific courses in which he plans to write essays on course related topics, starting with Greek Civilization, Creative Writing (junior level), and Medieval Art History. Truly, a writing course load fit for a king, Benny!
How can I help and advise him on how not to be overwhelmed by such an ambitious endeavor? Yeah, things can get mighty "hairy" when writing for several classes at once, especially when your major is in another field of study.
To help him and may I say first, that my style of counseling him is to use my own experience as an undergraduate in college. When I entered my first year as a freshman, I had to take English as a requirement to graduate; though my major was decidedly in Physics, later I became a filmmaker and screenwriter.
I remember this lady associate professor, she was young and pretty, with a good disposition; moreover, she was able to recognize fine writing, not perfect mind you, but potentially hidden skills inside well written essays. How can you achieve such comparative results without much writing experience? Listen to what she told me.
The kind professor told me that what made my essays work well, and deliver the communicative interest to keep her reading, was my near total detachment from the classical mess of structured and systematic rules of perfectly correct grammar and syntax. That really blew me away as I did not expect such a comment from her, a structured and systematic teacher of the literary arts.
What makes you a good writer isn't the rules and regulations about grammar and syntax, which of course you need to know, sometimes forcibly driven into you by the necessities of the academic life; but more to the point, a good successful writer, no matter what level you might find yourself to be, writes both from the heart and mind. More pointedly than the latter and this includes myself, one style of effective and naturally communicative writing is seen in those folks whom, by nature or even providence, write deep down from their own guts, that is, from what they have personally experienced in their lives, especially the people they have met, including members of their own family.
Remember the classic 1948 dramatic comedy, titled "I Remember Mama," a movie directed by George Stevens; well, one of the subtexts in that memorable story is on how to write well, and write well enough to catch the interests of some publishers. Though it is the mother's story on paper, as well as in the title, one can truly interpret ate it as the daughter's story, Katrin, played by Barbara Bel Geddes. In short, one intent of the screenwriter (DeWitt Bodeen) was to emphasize the importance of writing from your heart and mind, and not to invent stories and heroes based on classical myths and archetypes, found in the Greek Classics, say, or even further back in the prehistory of human civilization. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be writing on these ancient subjects.
So, in a creative writing class at the junior level, you should pay attention to your own heart and mind, as you delve into the deepest recesses of your soul (speaking figuratively, at least). Now, considering your Greek Civilization course, you opt to deal with the classical mess of myths and archetypes, which, in my opinion, takes a lot more research and time to put together; but in this case, you may not have a choice. Yet, you may find clever ways to injection yourself into the mythology of the Greek Civilization. Similarly, your Medieval Art History course may demand formal treatment of specific subjects, like painting or sculpture. And again, there are creative ways to bring yourself into these subjects, say, by impressionistic means in which your own thoughts and feelings achieve varied forms of penetration into the mythological structures of your subjects. Think about how Cezanne achieved his post-impressionistic interpretation of the world around him thorough his painting career. That's a good starting point for late 19th century Art History. In your case, you're dealing with the Medieval Period. Think about one of those medieval painters or sculptors that you might find interesting during the course of that class, and find in them some particular characteristics similar to that in Cezanne, say. Good luck, Benny!
Time management will be key. Start each project as early as you can - the more time for writing and proofing the better.
Susan E.’s Answer
Of those 3 classes, think of which one interests you the most or one that can help you in the future. I think one or two heavy classes is ok. I'd like to know how you came up with 3 of them like that. Also, are they required classes? IF they are, take at least one and pace yourself. Going to school is not a race.