This semester, I took two writing-intensive courses; one of them being a British literature survey class, the other being a poetry workshop. Even though I enjoy writing as an English major, I found myself challenged in both of my classes. After all, writing-intensive classes are extremely time-consuming: for one of my classes, I had to write a paper every single week. They can also be frustrating, as their large time commitment and level of difficulty can make it difficult to get a good grade. Even though I spent a lot of this semester feeling frustrated and stressed, I ultimately realized that my writing-intensive classes were well worth the struggle. Despite their challenges, they grew me to be a better reader, writer and student.
It goes without saying that taking writing-intensive courses helped me become a better writer. Before I took these courses, I felt pretty confident in my writing abilities. After all, I used to get very high grades on papers in high school, and I am currently an English major who writes for the Odyssey. What could go wrong? My writing-intensive courses, however, taught me that you're never done becoming a writer. Writing courses help fine-tune writing because they require you to write all the time. For my literature course, I had to write a paper every single week; and for my poetry course, I regularly created and revised poems. Writing so frequently was difficult, but it was key for my improvement. I also grew in my writing because the writing-intensive courses were very challenging. Both my poetry and literature courses were graded so harshly that I found it difficult to get the grade I wanted. Initially, I felt very frustrated because I felt like I was constantly trying to improve my work with no results. At the end of the semester, however, I realized how much my writing had improved when both teachers told me how much better of a writer I became throughout the course. Although I really wanted to receive good grades throughout the entire course, I realized that the improvement of my writing was more important. Even though writing-intensive courses may be academically challenging, I promise you that your growth throughout them will make it worth it.
Not only did writing-intensive courses help improve my writing, but they helped me become more well-read. Using a writing course to improve your reading seems counter-intuitive because you'd expect to spend all of your time writing essays or papers. Yet the writing-intensive courses that I have taken have taught me that in order to be a good writer, you have to start by being a good reader. As a result, most of my pre-work for my writing-intensive classes was reading literature. For my literature class, I read a wide variety of British literature, such as The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and The Faerie Queene, and for my poetry class, I read a survey of contemporary American poets, such as Sharon Olds, Terrance Hayes and Jeffrey McDaniel. Although I felt like reading so much every week consumed a lot of my time, I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to read so many important works. I had previously read very little contemporary poets or old British literature, so I found that taking these courses filled gaps in my knowledge. My writing-intensive courses opened my eyes to new areas of literature - some of which I really enjoyed!
Arguably most importantly, writing-intensive courses improved me as a person. They taught me how to manage my time in order to balance the large amounts of both reading and writing that I was assigned. They taught me to persevere when I did not receive the grade I wanted, or when I felt tired of writing so much. They taught me to look for help when I am feeling challenged by the writing, whether by talking to my professor or by going to the writing center. I believe that improving personal qualities seems like a good reason to take a continued-writing course. So I'd encourage you to take a writing-intensive class that you've had an eye on, whether it's creative writing or literature. Yes, it may be a challenging course, and you may discover that a lot of notions you held about writing are wrong. Yet I promise you that you will emerge as a stronger writer and a stronger student. After all, what is the point of taking courses if you're not challenged a little?