Dear Zoe, 

How do I learn how to write better and hate writing less? I don’t always mind doing it, but I dread getting started. -Sarah

Sarah, this is definitely something a lot of students struggle with, so you’re not alone! Getting started is the hardest part of writing for a lot of people, including myself. One thing that helps me is starting with some sort of outline. This makes visualizing the rest of a paper much easier. Sometimes a mental block gets in the way after you created an outline and began writing. One thing that always helps me is finding someone I can talk to about my topic. Once I look over my notes and start verbalizing my ideas, I can usually get my brain juices flowing again. A second thing that can help is the website “The Most Dangerous Writing App” through Squibler. Last year, one of my professors had us use this website as a writing prep activity. You have to continuously type for a chosen amount of time between three and 60 minutes. If you stop typing, everything already typed will disappear. This is a great way to get some ideas down even if they don’t all go together. It’s just another way to get your writing flowing again. 

Beyond your room, there are also people on campus who can help you write. The Writing Center on campus is a great resource. They have writing tutors that can help you format your paper, create proper citations, edit your work, and more! If you go on the DePauw website, there is a link to sign up for an appointment to meet with a tutor. It’s also best to not procrastinate. Setting up specific appointments can help you stay on track with your writing. You’ll also get used to the process of writing as you do it more. The Squibler website has writing prompts as well that can help you practice outside of classes. As boring as it sounds, writing is just like learning to ride a bike: the more you do it, the better you’ll get. 

Dear Zoe,

What is the line between showing interest in someone and having a one-sided relationship? I’m tired of always texting first. -Cat

Hi Cat! Relationships can be really challenging, especially during college. Everyone is trying to figure themselves out while also understanding how they fit with other people. This being said, it can be really frustrating when it feels like you’re doing all the emotional labor in a relationship. The easiest thing for me to say is if they wanted to, they would. That isn’t always fair, though. Here’s a list of a few things you can do to potentially fix your problem: 

  1. If your partner is continuously not reciprocating in conversations, be straightforward and address it. Set aside time for a conversation where you can address your partner’s lack of attention to your relationship. 
  2. Express your concerns about what is lacking in your relationship. This might be challenging at first, but open dialogue can help a lot. It is really important to express your concerns as they happen in order to avoid any built up resentment.
  3. Try to set some sort of expectation with your partner. Expectations can be small or big. Examples include asking them to check in on you at a certain time or asking for time together without distractions.

Overall, if you find yourself in a relationship that isn’t fully working for you, the best thing to do is leave that relationship.