Tick… tock… tick… tock. The clock hands spin rapidly, generating a vortex in which spirals desperate time. The shadowy presence of the dreaded deadline looms over your shoulder, and the phantom casts dark thoughts of doubt and anxiety—that one meme on Twitter from your favorite parody account. Your hand seizes in agony from clenching a pencil, eraser shavings settling like snowfall onto the floor beneath your legs that bounce anxiously to the crescendo of the metronomic ticking. In the final moments, you hastily drag the file into the submission box with sweaty fingertips and click “submit.” Five minutes to spare, you reflect jubilantly as you massage your hand, drained but satisfied with yet another seemingly clinch success.
All writers, especially college students, have been here—the self-ascribed, once-in-a-nighttime, last-minute-inspired writing prodigy. How exhausting for you to shoulder the demands of higher education all in one to twelve hours!
Frankly, the classic all-nighter strategy is lazy, a symptom of poor writers. If a professor on a swivel stool scooted towards you—a malnourished writer—while you anxiously kick your feet off the edge of the examination table, the coarse paper crackling rhythmically beneath your swinging limbs, this “doctor” might observe the following: contentment with insufficient writing, disregard for constructive criticism, close-mindedness of revision, and fear of failure. The doctor might prescribe the long-term treatment: conquering your fears.
Could fear really be the root of all bad writing?
Good writers heed the call for new voices to engage the world in new language, provoking new dialogue between constructs. Good writers are open to the opportunity, willing to experiment with their language and discover their identities. Good writers are not afraid of failure but rather understand that learning and failure are in direct variation: failure is a necessary growing pain. Just as the body repairs the muscle fibers after a strenuous workout, fusing the damaged fibers with new protein to grow even stronger than before, the mind requires exercise to replace underdeveloped skills with experienced critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
Bad writers are terrified from a deeply-rooted insecurity of belonging: their writing is inadequate, their thoughts are disconnected, their conversations to engage the world are irrelevant. Whoever you are and wherever you are on your writing odyssey, your voice matters. Conquer your fears of failure because being afraid is depraving the world and doing a disservice to your community.