Writing the assignment answer you want to

I’m back on the marked assign­ments again — I’m around a week ahead of sched­ule, which is good. Like the last one, this one too is one of tight word–counts: 800 for each of two ques­tions.

I have writ­ten 932 words for one of the ques­tions, and I am around 250 from fin­ish­ing. I’m also find­ing it the easi­est ques­tion I’ve attemp­ted in ages.

Nor­mally, when answer­ing assign­ment ques­tions, I spend more time wor­ry­ing about the struc­ture and the edit­ing than get­ting the con­tent down on paper. Work­ing out what I need to say from what I want to say is a pro­cess that can drive me into para­lys­is. This time, I’m just not caring. Sep­ar­at­ing the writ­ing phase and the edit­ing phase turns out to allow me to write the answer I want to, then edit it into the answer that’s actu­ally needed for sub­mis­sion to my tutor.

This isn’t a tech­nique that will neces­sar­ily work well in exam con­di­tions, how­ever the tech­nique of writ­ing an answer plan first is sim­il­ar, if in reverse. But I am going to con­tin­ue to use it for the rest of my assign­ments, to see if it is a meth­od to get around the para­lys­is I often feel when writ­ing — what my friend Simon Pride described as my “inner cen­sor”. I hope it does.