Writing Papers

Writing Papers

So, I’m back in school.  I’m pursuing an MBA.  My company will pay for some of it, but if I take classes at the pace scheduled by my school, I’ll still end up paying about $16K.  I’ll probably have to spend the next half-decade going to school, so that my company pays for it.  Money is a sore subject right now as I enter a short-sale situation on my townhouse (want to buy it really, really cheap?).

Anyway, that isn’t the point.  The point is writing papers.  I’m relatively certain that several of the readers of this blog were, at some point, employed by NHS, so this blog is going out to you.  In my current school program, I fairly regularly have to read journal articles and other stuff, then write summary/opinion academic papers on the subjects contained therein.

In undergraduate college, I majored in Geology.  I read bazillions of journal articles.  Understand that by “read,” what I mean is that I printed them, put them in a three ring binder, put said binder on the 808 Grove kitchen table, then napped beside it.  Occasionally I had to write papers.  Truth-be-told, this paper writing thing was far more common in non-Geology classes like The Art of Literature or other broadly named classes like Social Problems, which much to my dismay did nothing for my social problem of being incapable of talking to girls when I was 18.

I hated writing papers.  I always had these fantastic ideas, but I could usually summarize them in a page or two, which left me 12 to 15 pages of white space to fill.  I generally had to allot about a week for a paper, and by allot a week for a paper, I mean I generally started about five hours before it was due.  I somehow managed to get good grades despite all efforts to fail.  I learned quickly that a good way to support an idea and fill a lot of space was to quote loads and loads of sources.  It turns out that this actually helps you learn, too.

Anyway, I hated writing papers.  More than about a page of text was exhausting.  Reading that boring material was exhausting.  Then, I got a job at NHS.  Every day, as an editor, I would read dozens of pages of boring material.  I would have to internalize dozens of specific processes and custom formatting protocols.  Writing papers?  Cake.  I could pump out a three or four page report, generally grammatically accurately, in no time.  The mental process of creating sentences, paragraphs and complete thoughts was second nature.

Now, I see a paper on the syllabus with seven to eight double spaced pages.  Ha!  Gimme a break.  Cake.

I once spent 263 minutes on the phone with a lady in Texas, a nurse who was being treated poorly due to her race and gender (claims I generally disregarded but in this case were verified later by responses from her employer).  The ensuing report, which was written following the release of approximately 7 gallons of urine from my bladder, took just one hour to write and was 14 single-spaced pages (based on almost 30 pages of notes).  Seven to eight double spaced pages?  Bring it.


5 thoughts on “Writing Papers

  1. Dude…going back to school was a mistake. Seriously…why would you do that?*

    I’m finding that despite the best efforts of the editors at NHS, my writing is not up to par with what MLA requires these days (apparently, some of the rules have changed since last time I was writing academic papers). I got ripped by the Writing Center (what a joke) for being “too blunt [read concise – that was the explanation they gave me when I asked for clarification].” Also, they didn’t like the numbers formatting we used to do at the office. Whatever. Hope academia treats you well.

    *Please note that I re-enrolled in January at M-Dub and am pursuing a second undergrad degree…this time in something useful.

  2. Well timed post, considering I closed out the law school last night working on a stupid paper that was due today. At 1 a.m. I was literally the last person out the door (except the janitors). It’s funny, in law school the writing classes are all designed to de-program all the stuff we learned in undergrad about writing. Shorter word limits are harder than longer ones.. we’re supposed to be succinct and precise in our writing. As you can see by this comment, I haven’t learned much! How is MBA writing different than the kind of writing you’ve done at NHS and at Mary Wash?

    1. Like your law degree, I am far more apt to run into the upper constraint than struggle to reach a minimum threshold with the MBA. In NHS, the writing was directly correlated to the content of the call. A person with few details may have a five to ten sentence report. Someone with a lot of details or a long series of events may result in a multi-page report. At NHS, we tried to be as succinct while keeping in mind that any information we were provided should be put into the report. Often callers would repeat themselves a lot, which is where we could cut down content. It is so different than MWC because the writing I have now is APA format, which I love compared to MLA and also the writing is more directed. When I write an MBA paper, I feel like I have the freedom to expand upon the ideas expressed in the journal articles I’ve read by combining ideas or discounting ideas, where as at MWC, I was expected to regurgitate information no matter how I felt about it.

      I have already written my first three papers (draft format) for my next class, which starts a week from yesterday.

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