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Writing is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Once the length of what I need to write exceeds around a hundred words, it's almost as if my brain stops working. I'm graduating from college this summer and looking back on it, I'd go so far as to argue papers were harder than thermodynamics midterms.

What I have going for me is that I'm a pretty good public speaker. The moment I picture myself behind a podium in front of an audience, ideas organize themselves into coherent patterns. It's a skill that's been honed over many weekends of debate practice.

My writing process now looks like this:

1. Identify thesis 2. Give a speech 3. Take bulleted notes 4. Give the speech again 5. Revise bulleted notes 6. If satisfied with structure begin expanding bullets into sentences and paragraphs.

What you need to understand is that much of writing in school is bullshit. And not actually very useful for building up your writing skills.

For me I'd say the most important influences towards improving my writing came from one particular course in high school (modern european history) where the homework was all short essays and paragraph-ish long answers to a bunch of questions/topics and heavy participation in usenet during my college years.

With papers it's too easy to fall into a pattern of satisficing, because the bar is set pretty low, even in college, and the exercises are mostly unrealistic. But when you have to spend time trying to communicate complicated subjects to real human beings or to make detailed arguments then you have to step up your skills substantially.

It sounds like you've got a solid form -- for the writing part, it's just annoying/tedious/takes time to start recording your thoughts as they go. Writing is a form of thinking, literally, and if you can train yourself to document your thoughts as you are saying or thinking them, it won't hurt as much, I promise! Your first draft should always be shit, and then you revise and rebuild, like you were already doing...

I have the same problem as the person you're responding to, and writing is not a form of thinking (for me, at least) - generating anything to put onto the page feels like an insurmountable task. I like the GP's suggestion of making a speech, I'm likewise much better at vocalizing than writing.

I'm pretty sure there is some underlying difference and it would be good to know what it is - I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 14, which never really felt like a satisfying answer, though I do have some dyslexic-ish symptoms (I tend to spell phonetically when I'm very tired and often type word-correct anagrams - like "never really left like a satisfying answer", above).

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