I used to hate any restriction imposed on my writings by schools, be it word limit or a certain format I had to abide to. That’s actually one of the reasons I decided not to study English Literature – initially. As arrogant as it sounds, I wanted to keep the essence of my writing.
Now I see those restrictions more as a challenge than limitation. The word limit keeps me from rambling on and on, and to keep my arguments short and concise. The essay format forces me to structure my arguments and it often reveals opinions that I did not know I had.
The biggest challenge, however, has been to decide how deep I want to go in a given topic. In writing an essay about Emerson’s idea of transcendentalism, I am restricted to about two pages, 1.5-spaced, and there are so many things that I have to leave out because of that. I understand and appreciate the professor wanting to keep the assignment simple (“It’s about coherence and not so much about content, folks”) but it puts me in the awkward position of wanting to display all my thoughts and running the risk of being misunderstood (or simply not understood) because I put too many points in one essay.
Any tips on how you handle this problem? Or is it even a problem for you? Maybe it’s my lack of practice that makes me struggle to find a balance. And now back to the essay!