Writing under pressure, exam time

For the students in Bergen it’s exam time. This is the final stretch of our semester with Zamora. Blogs are done, reflection is reflected and it’s time to defend and evaluate your actions throughout the spring. So why am I writing this blog instead of working on my exam? Well… I’m an easily distracted and careless person. I find writing rambling thoughts helps me focus afterwards. I’m pretty sure there is some established psychological method which focuses on writing down stuff as a method of clearing your head.

So, I’ll do just that. Right now, my primary focus is getting myself into a flow state where I can mass produce content. While some, like my fiancée meticulously build up their articles I like to make a bloated mess and shear it down afterwards. By giving myself this leeway, it allows me to be extra critical of my own thought process which in turn gives me new ideas to pile on. The one big weakness to this iterative process is the amount of time it requires. To successfully review something, I myself made requires a reset. It might be a walk or a drink with friends, just anything to refresh. Which is what I’m doing now.

I really regret that this exam isn’t an oral exam. I’m much better at formulating and presenting my ideas when speaking. There I can take the liberty of adlibbing and make small jests to lighten a mood. I can play of the audience. In written words I’m stuck using what has worked before. For this blog and most of my other think pieces it’s a light-hearted and very, er um, talking style. For academic papers it’s more rhythmic and subdued. While it can be fun to write in that style it’s a clash with the subject matter for this exam. Yes, we have to analyse art in an academic fashion, but it’s still more personal than, say: an analysis of twitter interactions surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis.

It’s been a good semester. Reflection on time spent is always push and pull task. If you’ve documented your progress you can see where you excelled, but also at what parts you slacked off. I’ve yet to end a semester not feeling like I would do better if I rewinded time losing all accrued knowledge except this feeling of “I could’ve done better”. It’s at these times I have to remind myself that I would probably do just the same the next time through.

So, if you are like me. Spending these lovely may days inside working on your papers I have a few tips:

  1. Start writing gibberish and half remembered facts.
  2. Take liberal amounts of short breaks often.
  3. Start early.
  4. If you can’t get your lazy ass motivated work with others. Invite other students to sit in the same room so that you can use social pressure instead of inner motivation.
  5. Don’t fret to much. Even if you bungle this exam you’ll probably not fail as long as you submit anything.
  6. Use diagrams or pictures of your work if you are uninspired and need to pad out your text. They break up text-blocks and make anything more interesting.
  7. If you really want to forget enjoy this drinking game. Pour yourself a milk glass of your favourite spirits and take a drink every time I start a sentence with “So,”.

Enjoy the sun and exam pressure