After an intensive, three-day writing marathon, I am (hopefully) done with my comprehensive exam. At the end of this, I can honestly say that it wasn’t that bad. Yes, I had to write for hours on end but my biggest struggle was in trying to write my thoughts out, and not in trying to figure out what to write.
With a cup of coffee, I read each question carefully, dissecting them into their essential elements. After committing myself to the question of the day, I wrote an outline. And then, I found those seminal, timeless pieces of authorship that speak to the core of the question in front of me. And like that, I was on firm ground.
I can definitely say that the first 500 words of my first response were the hardest to write. At that point, I was still trying to mentally organise my thoughts, thinking of how to respond to the other two questions, worrying if I can write 4,000 words in a day, second guessing my approach to the question…. It took me around two hours to write the first page and a half. After that, however, the writing process was (for the most part) smoother, faster…
There were those times when I’d close all the tabs, documents, and books in front of me in frustration . Or those times where I’d go back and reconsider how I’ve framed my answer, change my response, only to realize that it made more sense the first time around. Or those other times, when I’d know exactly what I wanted to write, but the thought of sitting down for the next so many hours and actually translating my thoughts onto paper was discouraging. Or that unexplainable feeling of dread that washed over me when I was about to start writing my last response… At those times, I’d simply save my work and walk away.
So, to all my fellow colleagues: Despite those and similar moment of vexation (and back pain), it truly wasn’t all that bad at all.