Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fancy a Quickie?

I am aware that there is a time and a place for a quickie, but overall don’t you think that the experience and the result are more satisfying when we take our time?

And I’m not just talking about you know; I’m talking about the way we go about things in general.

On the one hand, we do seem to value the idea of taking our time with sayings like “stop and smell the roses” and fables like “The Tortoise and the Hare.” But on the other hand, we are a culture of multi-tasking, microwave dinners and George Clooney’s relationships.

Many of my students think they are “bad” writers because it takes them a long time to write an essay. I tell them that good writing usually does take a long time. Snooki’s bestselling book wasn’t built in a day, I reassure them. In fact, one of my favorite sayings about writing, which I include on my syllabus, is this one from Enrique Jardiel Poncela: “When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”

There’s the brainstorming of the essay, the organizing of ideas, the first draft, the proofreading, the looking up of grammar rules you’re unsure about (I know, and Snooki actually wrote her book), the final draft, the proofreading, the having someone else proofread it, the next revision, and then the having it notarized and emblazoned with the family crest.

So I feel like such a hypocrite when I give my class an in-class essay. I am, aren’t I? Should I nix the in-class exams? Or is there a place for timed writing?

21 comments:

Shelly said...

I think there's a place for all life's quickies. Life would be boring without them.

Shannon said...

I second Shelly's comment, with more emphasis on the "you know".

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Timed writing has its place. Especially if it can get a student to see how much writing they can accomplish if they focus for certain segments of time.

Rachael said...

The thing I liked about assigning in-class writing was that it showed me what my students' thoughts were like, without benefit of time to revise or plagiarize, which have me a better idea of what basic skills I needed too teach them. It also necessarily limited how much they could actually write, so it was less to grade!

So, you know, I'm pro-quickie. All the way.

Lady Dae said...

I find that I excel at in-class essays because I don't have to worry about going back to proofread and get basic grammar together. It forces the teacher to look at what I'm saying and grade it on that instead of taking off points for an error I overlooked, I believe in good grammar and that it should be taught but it's more difficult to deal with someone who has perfect grammar but can't formulate their thoughts well.

Jaya J said...

We do quickies at the newspaper everyday. There's a tight deadline for news writing but of course, a good essay always takes time.

Crystal Pistol said...

Timed writing stresses me out. I say we ban it.

I laughed when I read the Snooki dig about her book not being built in a day. Ha! :)

Jessica Bell said...

This is why I feel like vomiting when I think of doing NaNo. Not a task I would enjoy as I like to take my time. Another reason why I despised exams at school and I seriously chose subjects based on whether the final assessment was an exam or an assessment task (meaning project you can do at a decent pace and at HOME).

On the other hand, I do think it's a good skill to have, to be able to do something quickly. Even if in the end a student realizes that doing things quickly isn't their cup of tea, it will still give them the practice they'll need in life when it's full of adult responsibly and work deadlines. So keep it, and tell them the purpose is much bigger than being able to write fast. :o)

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>...I am aware that there is a time and a place for a quickie, but overall don’t you think that the experience and the result are more satisfying when we take our time?

Yeah, I prefer it when I can really relax and take my time, savoring the deliciousness of the act.

But a quickie is better than none at all. I mean, sometimes when I'm ALREADY late for work, I'm forced to guzzle my martini as I'm reaching for my briefcase and rushing out the door.

As far as the quickie essay question goes...

Ask yourself this: Where would Jazz be without improvisation?

Some of the best Jazz has been made when the players were improvising, immersing their musical minds in the moment and letting the magic just happen spontaneously.

Some of my best stuffs has accidentally "happened" when I've just been banging something out on a keyboard so fast that my talentless soul doesn't have time to remind my limited brain that I'm not supposed to be brilliant, that I'm just a Neanderthal whose left pinkie never finds the the letter "z" on the first try.

So, yeah, I think there's a place for timed writing. Some of the best magic happens when our fingers out-run our minor talent. Don't make me think, just turn me loose! If I have too much time to think I'll sometimes mentally edit the imaginative spark right out of my writing and smother the creativity with [gasp!] "self-control". (In other words, I'll make too much sense and kill all the fun.)

Don't forget that scene in 'Dead Poets Society' when Robin Williams, playing the teacher, forces his student to just spit out as fast as possible whatever ideas flash into his mind. (There will be time for separating the wheat from the chaff later.)

Oops! I'm late; gotta run! (Now, damn it, where'd I leave the vermouth?!)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

There is a place for timed writing, which is in timed exams. Sometimes we need to set deadlines because it pushes us into action.

Duncan In Kuantan

the late phoenix said...

best post title of all time

as a student, i didn't mind the occasional pop quiz, but as a writer, if i were to rush, there would be no chance of holding onto any bright ideas my brain might create, which is usually one or two a decade if i'm lucky

in a vacuum, i'd have to say yes i like quickies, but then again, i like anything, really

are you excited for the new simpsons treehouse of horror coming up in two days?

Mary Mary said...

I like the idea of the in-class exam. It makes them have to think on their toes. And that Snooki! What a fantastic example! (sarcasm intended) When I lived in France they had an equivalent to McDonald's called Quick and you could go in and buy these delightful little brownies and muffin-like snacks that were called Quickies. So, yeah, all the college kids would go and get a Quickie after class!

Jo-Ann said...

As a champion procrastinator, I need a deadline. All writing is a quickie as far as I'm concerned, because nothing gets started until the deadline is ticking closer and closer. It's amazing what an adrenaline rush does for creativity.

Then I need an extension to polish it.

You're doing your students a favour, IMO, by asking them to come up with an idea and develop it in a short time. In the work place, we often have to think on our feet and come up with something innovative. There's nothing wrong with getting them to self-edit (or edit somebody else's) in the next session.

Interwebs Fails said...

I love quickies!

CHULALA said...

Life would be boring without random places for quickies :(

http://chuchu-chulala.blogspot.com

Theresa Milstein said...

I couldn't agree more. I had no idea how much editing/revision my manuscript would need when I wrote those first few lines. The more time and care we take, the better the result.

As for timed exams, what's the alternative? You know they'd do it at the last minute anyway.

James Garcia Jr said...

Hey, you! How have you been?
I agree with Shelly and Shannon...
#nuffsaid

-Jimmy

Dylan Fitzgerald said...

I think in-class essay writing is valuable, because it requires a student to think differently about writing. Sometimes the goal needs to be to get coherent ideas out on a page in short amount of time. You expect different things from in-class essays from what you would expect from a week-long writing assignment.

Liz said...

Timed writing does suck but they need to learn to work under pressure! I say.

Phạm Minh Tâm said...

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Sean Marie said...

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