Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

Located in Portland, Maine, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers a 15-week immersion program for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in documentary writing, photography, or radio.
This blog is an update of current Salt students insights and musings.


Writing Exercise

So I'm in school. For writing.

And I'm noticing that anytime the instructor mentions a writing exercise, my jaw tenses, my breath quickens, my mind goes blank. I think of excuses to get out of writing. I think of the reasons this assignment will be too difficult. I procrastinate and over-analyze and sabotage.
I think about switching mid-week to the photography track.

Then I start writing. Maybe a bit hesitantly at first, but then I start breathing, relax my jaw, and let my mind converse with the keyboard.

I write.

And I wonder why I got myself worked up into a state. I mean, I've been writing on my own for years. I've written articles that have been published in actual magazines. And I signed up for this intensive writing course. Of course there is writing involved! And I like writing! And I am very capable of writing whatever comes my way. What's gotten into me?


The introduction of an institution into my everyday habit of scribbling suddenly has the power to turn enjoyment into a source of anxiety. Suddenly the fear of writing poorly on a simple journalism exercise analyzed by classmates seems to weigh more than an editor's critique of a polished article.

Then I remind myself: I like writing. I am here to learn, not impress. I am here to occasionally fail to eventually succeed. I will come out of this institution with an arsenal of kick-ass skills.

It has taken some time to get used to being in classes again. Only this time round I'm 30 and thankful that I'm catching myself in old, limiting habits this first week instead of during finals.

From my perspective, that's the difference between school at 18 and school at 30:
I now know that I don't know everything and not to pretend like I do. I'm ready to peel down the layers, get raw, get uncomfortably close, harness that passion and curiosity within myself I wasn't quite sure what to do with a decade earlier.
I'm ready to listen, absorb, be, live salty.

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1 comment:

buy research papers online said...

nice excercises. not for a begginer's level actually, but it's good anyway