It was either buy a house or earn my masters.
This was the “fork in the road” I came to a little over three years ago. I knew I couldn’t do both, and I didn’t really want to.
I chose the masters. And I can honestly say that I would make the same choice all over again. Property is certainly valuable and worthy of investment. It is real, tangible, something that can be built upon.
But, then again, so is education.
Here are 5 things I learned about writing from earning my masters:
1.) How to produce quality content consistently.
For two solid years I pounded out word after word, project after project, paper after paper. There were times I thought I would die.
But, of course, I didn’t. I survived. Even more than that – I learned to excel. It turned out (for me anyways) more pressure = more product. And the more I produced, the more I learned what quality looked like. And the more I learned what quality looked like, the more consistent I became. I learned to cut the fluff.
Quick Tip: When you feel like giving up DON’T. And never forget to stop, breathe and take in your surroundings. That’s the key to producing quality content consistently – remember where you’ve come from, assess where you’re at and aim just a little bit higher the next time.
2.) How to meet multiple deadlines.
Deadline after deadline after deadline. Sometimes 4-5 major deadlines at any given time. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. Keeping them all straight was the hardest part. So, I made lists of my deadlines and lists of the lists of my deadlines. I was (still am) obsessed with lists, what can I say?
It all worked out. Every time I started to panic, I would just tell myself: it always gets done. And it did. Because I made sure I was organized enough to get it done.
Quick Tip: Your best friend when it comes to meeting writing deadlines is organization. Maybe you need to print out a calendar for the month. Maybe you need to use your Outlook. Maybe you need brightly colored sticky notes. Maybe you work better with just a plain, old list on notebook paper. Whatever organization method you prefer – find it, use it, own it.
3.) How to receive critique and apply it.
Boy, this can be tough. Every professor (or editor) gives critique differently. And some projects are a little dearer to the heart than others. Critique can be hard to swallow. It can be even harder to apply.
I learned to take a project that had been critiqued and make a list of the comments and changes my professor had. That way I could see them all at once – see the height, the depth and breadth of them – and tackle them one by one. Nothing missed.
Quick Tip: Remember two things: 1.) you’re not the first. 2.) And critique applied = your success.
4.) How to write on any topic.
Because in school, you don’t always get a choice. Sometimes I had to write on a totally, completely and absolutely dry (to me) topic. I felt uninspired. I felt intimidated. I felt stupid (in a “should-i-know-more-about-this-than-i-do????” kind of way).
And that’s when I had to change my perspective. It wasn’t about what I didn’t know. It was about what I did know. It was about what I could bring to the table – what my background, personality and strengths could bring to the topic I was covering.
Quick Tip: Don’t fixate on what you don’t know. Figure out what you do know about the topic. Find your unique angle, say & do what only you can say & do and leave your stamp.
5.) How to learn.
Knowing how to learn is essential to becoming a better writer. Period. Earning my masters taught me more about the art of learning (consequently making me a better writer) than I ever thought possible.
I realized that just because a ton of information was being thrown at me didn’t mean I was learning. And I needed to be able to learn in order to improve as a writer.
To really learn, I realized I had to be able to:
– think for myself
– figure out which study processes worked for me and which didn’t
– develop techniques to remember information
– interact professionally with a wide range of fellow students and professors
– manage my time well
– take responsibility for my work
Quick Tip: If you know how to learn, the world is yours – as a writer and as an individual.