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Why Is Writing So Hard?

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith
Anyone who has toiled over writing a paper knows all too well just how challenging it can be. Writing demands that you be precise in your thinking and facile with language. But who has time for thinking and writing when life keeps happening: you need to eat and sleep, read hundreds of pages for school, do the laundry, balance the checkbook, go for a run, attend a school function for the kids. And then when you do sit down to write, you’re keenly aware of the need to put words onto paper concisely and quickly (because a deadline looms)—maybe even elegantly—all while sounding reasonably intelligent. At this point, singing karaoke before hundreds of your closest friends may seem more appealing. That many students will do whatever they can to avoid writing is no surprise: writing is hard.

Take a Deep Breath . . .

“Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself—it is the occurring that is difficult.” Stephen Leacock
But there is help for these seemingly hopeless (even endless?) moments of writing anxiety: the Naval War College Writing Center. We’re not miracle workers, but we can guide you through the occasionally treacherous waters of writing.  Help you tap into your passion for a topic? Check. Work with you to shape a specific and effective argument that meets the “so what” challenge? Check. Discuss strategies for reading those hundreds of pages more efficiently? Check. Provide clarity on how to integrate evidence into your paper? Check. Not only can we help you discover and refine your writing process, but we can also be your support as you channel your nascent writing talent so that writing a paper is—if not enjoyable—at least a rewarding experience.

The Nuts and Bolts

“The time to begin an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.” Mark Twain
The Writing Center is not a mysterious or magical place, but because we believe a budding writer resides in all students, our passion is helping you discover and empower your inner writer. We believe in the fundamentals of effective writing, so we work to provide an environment in which you can master the basics. How do we do this? We hold writing workshops in which you’ll have the chance to try out various strategies, tutor in one-on-one sessions where we can tackle any writing issue you identify, provide handouts addressing all aspects of the writing process, and even cheerlead on occasion. By collaborating with students, individually and in small groups,  we are able to address any of your writing needs whether it be generating ideas for a paper, working to organize your paper logically, or writing a conclusion that brings tears to your reader’s eyes (for all the right reasons). We love what we do and are passionate about helping students succeed, so if you find yourself reaching for the karaoke machine, stop by the Writing Center instead. Your family and friends will thank you.

Contact Information

If you'd like to know more about the Writing Center at the Naval War College, please contact Dr. Donna Connolly at or 401-841-6499.