Adventures in Writing | It’s Different When You’re Being Graded


This week, as I attempted to write another section of my thesis, it occurred to me that I’m approaching this project in a completely different way than I would if I didn’t need to turn it in. My thesis is fiction, so I am essentially writing a novel, but I’m treating it like schoolwork. Yes, it’s both. But I think my academic mindset is, in some ways, keeping me from writing what and how I would write if this were just a fun project.

For example, my professor told me I should give my main character a love interest to add to the story. If I were writing this just for myself, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’d write all the cheesy romance I want and then figure it out later. But because I have to submit this, I’ve spent most of the week procrastinating because I feel incredibly awkward writing a romantic scene and then turning it into my professor. This might be just me, because I have a classmate who is literally writing an erotic novel for her thesis. I can’t write the way I normally would, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m struggling so much with this thesis.

But it isn’t the biggest reason for my struggle. That would be the dreaded pacing. I’ve written quite a bit over the past few months, and I don’t hate all of it. The problem is, my thesis is only supposed to be about 30,000 words. Which is fine, except much of what I’ve written might be more appropriate for a longer novel (my proposed post-grad length is 90,000 words – because we had to come up with a separate full novel proposal). For example, I spent around 3,000 words – a tenth of my thesis – on a scene that should be just an obstacle to the main character, but, because of length constraints, turned into the main turning point of the novel. It’s difficult to wrap my head around it when there is so much more I want to do with this story, but can’t. And because of that, it seems incomplete or inadequate.

This week, I really came to terms with how the constraints of the thesis format are affecting my writing. Between the love scene (which is hopefully written by the time you’re reading this) and the fact that I only have about 7,000 more words in which to wrap up this book, I’m freaking out just a little bit. It’s a daunting project on it’s own, but, as someone who’s never completed a novel, I’m struggling with the desire to do it on my own terms.

15 thoughts on “Adventures in Writing | It’s Different When You’re Being Graded

  1. I can sympathise with awkward romantic scenes and academics to an extent – when reading Elizabethan erotic verse my professor would ask us to describe, in modern English, each ‘act’ of the scene. Rather embarrassing! I can imagine it must be even worse if it is literature that you have written yourself – I guess all you can do is be proud of what you have done and remember that the professors are used it. On your second point, it must suck to be constrained creatively by arbitrary word counts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I literally just finished writing that scene about a minute ago. It’s extremely tame (I don’t understand how one of my classmates is cool turning in erotica), but still so awkward! I’m hoping was just awkward to write, and not actually awkward, but I can’t event tell anymore.

      The word counts do make sense – the professor has to read ten of these in a week, and 300,000 words is still a lot. But it does make it much more difficult to write.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Doing anything for a class always feels different & sometimes really weird if you usually love doing it as more of a hobby thing. I hope things go well though, & that you’re able to finish your thesis & hand it in without too much more worry. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s really interesting to read this- I had no idea how different it can be writing a story for a thesis- I’ve only ever done academic pieces for grading, so obviously it feels less personal- it was good to read this and find out what it is like to write for a creative writing course

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would 100% rather be writing a research paper right now, because that’s what I’m comfortable with. This is definitely a challenge unlike anything I’ve done before, but in a good way. If you want to write creatively, I think a creative writing course is very valuable.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugh! Take your professor’s advice with a grain of salt. If you really, REALLY trust them, then fine. But my undergrad thesis professor was a tool and I STILL regret trying to incorporate his suggestions. It made a mess of my work and I got a lower grade than I deserved, due to his bad judgement. But I felt like I had to in order to please him. It felt like a real slap in the face when the grade came back. I was dissatisfied with my work and their grade.
    As far as writing a romantic scene, ick. But if you have to maybe you can make it just as awkward for the characters as it is for you? Perhaps you can channel that and use it to your advantage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good idea, thanks! I ended up writing something really tame, but hopefully it accomplishes the goal of giving my main character some sort of human relationship. I’ll see what kind of feedback I get.

      This professor has generally given me good advice, I’m just one of those people who rarely likes the things I write, so I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I do very rarely take my classmates advice, though, because most of the time it’s either really random or completely negates the point of my story.


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