There are loads of reasons provided for why writers should have blogs – expanding into the community, meeting new people, really getting a feel for their style, but last week I realised that in the year I have been blogging, something has become better due to my blogging that steps away from writing in the fictional sense.
I’m talking about essays.
For all of my A Level subjects – Latin, Religious Studies and Psychology – I am forced to provide ideas, evidence and conclusions in a time-constraint, for RS in under 45 minutes (but then I have four consecutive essays to write), for the other two, under 30 minutes.
Yes, it’s tight. Yes, it takes a great deal of practise to get those skills honed for
the stress of an exam. Yes, it hurts one’s hand after a while, after all the scribbling.
But it was so much more difficult last year.
I believe that crafting my opinions and ideas on this blogs, especially to the unusual extent that I have in the last few months, has not only widened my mind to think about the topics I’m interested in more regularly and thoroughly, but I believe that blogging is also helping me in my exams. Exam technique is composed of many different ‘legs’ – one of which is the flow of an essay. You know – that little under-remark saying “marks are awarded for the quality of your writing”. When I was younger, it used to be as obvious as “3 marks for spelling, punctuation, grammar”.
Now we simply have to guess what it is that the examiners want. They call it making the exams tougher, but I think it’s just rewording items so that marks are more difficult to award.
Blogging, for me, is basically talking to a computer screen through my fingers. That is, it is helping me expand on my use of the English language to I know that, before I started blogging, my writing was stuck on the sentence structure of finite verb, participle. And it was a bit bland. Through many of the outlets of blogging, my writing has taken on a bit more of a voice…I hope.
This ‘talking through my fingers’ has been helping me with the way I structure my exams. Whilst there could be the problem of being too colloquial, I think I’m okay on that account. Instead, I’m now taking the idea of talking in structure and applying it to strands of other people’s works.
Take, for example, my Latin Prose mock exam this afternoon: one question, to be answered essay style in half an hour, was along the lines of ‘How does Tacitus make the reactions to Nero’s daughter’s birth and death vivid?’*
I had been talking about Nero’s excess in celebrating his daughter so much that he treated her as a goddess after her birth. Now, the question – albeit implicitly – says that I must talk about both little Augusta’s life and death. Suddenly, I knew how to administer the switch using the theme of goddess that I had detailed upon in the previous two paragraphs. Without putting much effort into it, I switched to talking about Nero’s opinion after her death. Sorted.
How do I know that I have blogging to thank for this? Simply because I have been honing the skill of flowing from topic to sporadic topic here – one might even say in this very post! Because my life revolves around so many different things, my mind jumps to another even when I am in the middle of one (this has resulted in many abandoned blog-posts, sorry); in this way, it is necessary for there to be some way of collecting up the pieces.
Blogging has just helped me tighten up the links between all of my favourite topics and theories!
*For more information on the text I am studying, see this external link.