Turn Your Assignments into Productive Writing

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With school starting up in full swing again, many students will be under pressure to write several assignments that may be quite daunting. In my own schooling I found that one excellent method of relieving some of that stress is to turn the assignment into productive writing for my own projects. It might never become something you publish, but at least make it a tool for helping yourself. Hopefully, this can also apply to other forms of assigned writing, not just school work.

Considerations

When deciding to turn your assignments into productive writing there are two major things to consider;

1: What is the assignment designed to accomplish?

  • Learning how to research and write a paper from your findings.
  • Merging multiple sources of data to support a conclusion.
  • Practicing specific writing styles.
  • Practicing punctuation/word usage.
  • Verifying to instructors that you understand the concept of the lesson.
  • Critical Analysis

There are many more possible writing assignments, these are just some of the most common in high school and college.

2: What are your writing needs?

  • Gathering information
  • Creating societies
  • Practicing styles
  • Seeing from new angles
  • Creating content
  • Character exploration
  • Idea workshopping

Not all assignments will pair well with all of your needs, and since you typically have less leeway in choosing the assignment it is best to find which needs you have that can be addressed by the assignment. It takes a little creativity, but below are some examples.

Research & Response

Research papers are easiest for worldbuilders to incorporate as any topic you might be assigned to research can have relevance to your world. Consider how your research topic applies in your world: do they use a similar thermal fission system in their nuclear reactors, do they have an influential figure like the person you are studying, or how do they deal with public access to potentially lethal tools? Writing down these ideas helps you personalize the research improving your retention of the information for class and could prove useful in your story writing.

As you are researching you can also write poems about the topic or write a story from the perspective of your subject.

To a large degree response papers can work similar to research papers, but sometimes you might want to instead think about the responses that your characters would have to what you just read/saw.

Story Assignments

Assigned story writing, is by far the easiest to incorporate into your existing works. Follow the criteria of the assignment and just write from a portion of your own story. Many times this criteria will make it look like you can’t write your story, and maybe you can’t write the core story, but side stories, one off adventures, and non-canon events can help you explore the characters in ways you might not have thought of before. If you normally write in fantasy and the assignment is for a modern setting simply import a character’s personality and general backstory to explore who they would be in a modern world.

You can also use assigned story writing to take a deeper look into the styles that you typically do not use. Be sure to ask yourself what application this style would have in your own writing.

Proper Usage

Proper usage assignments are where I first discovered this technique for myself. I had a list of words and was told to use each of them properly. So I wrote a story that included each of the words; underlined so it was easy for the teacher to find them. I had so much fun with it that I later had a character write a letter to a friend properly punctuating the titles of books, movies, and radio shows he had read, watched, or listened to, (in accordance with that assignment) all in the post-apocalyptic world he lived in.

Remember, in the end, the point of all of this is to reduce the stress of writing your assignments and better internalize the subjects you are studying. It has the added benefit of helping develop your world, characters, style, and generally improves your writing skills. By incorporating the assignment with something you love you will care more about it and remember the lessons better, you make it relevant to yourself. Any assignment, regardless of its purpose, can be made a fun learning experience. 

If you have examples of when these, or similar techniques, have helped you reduce stress with your assignments and improve integration of information, we would love to hear about it in the comments below.