Claire Kozak is a junior from New York City majoring in English with a creative writing concentration and minoring in Legal Studies. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority, serves on the board for All Student Theatre, is involved in the production crews for various theater groups, and writes for and edits a number of campus publications. She loves telling stories, whether they are on the stage, in a script for an experimental student theater production, or simply words on a page. She hopes to attend law school after graduation to work in sexual assault prosecution and domestic violence prevention. Then again, she might drop out next week to become a starving author/Thoreau-esque-deadbeat. It’s really a mystery.
What brought you to The Writing Center?
In high school I was the Editor-in-Chief for my student newspaper. While I liked assigning articles to my staff and curating each issue, it was the editing process that truly excited me. Beyond the typos and simple grammatical corrections, I enjoyed working with authors to fully develop their ideas and find the most effective ways to articulate their arguments and opinions. Communication and storytelling have always been things I love, so it made perfect sense to me to do what I could to help other people enjoy them as well.
What do you like most about working with writers at The Writing Center?
Sitting down with someone to work on a piece, whether it’s for College Writing, a philosophy course, something STEM-focused, or anything in between gives me a unique opportunity to climb inside someone else’s head. For an hour, I get to focus on a topic that I might not normally get a chance to study, and more importantly, I get an inside look at everyone’s individual thought processes. I find myself constantly impressed by the new and ingenious ideas that writers have. It’s a fascinating glimpse into someone else’s process and style of writing and thinking, and something that I’m very grateful that I get to do.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
I constantly struggle with the simple act of sitting down and making myself complete an assignment. I’ll admit it – I’m a serial procrastinator, a master of “maybe later,” adept at avoidance. When I say I’m writing a paper, I usually mean I’m slamming my head in a door, pacing a hole in my rug, and finally sitting down and spitting something out onto the page after an embarrassingly long time. Writing is difficult, especially for those whose self-esteem (or academic achievement) is reliant on their ability to produce. You have to remember that whether or not you’re writing the life’s work/memoir/senior thesis/novel you’ve always said you’d finish, or just a paper for your Writing 1 course, you’re creating something new, putting something completely original out into the world. And that’s pretty amazing. But it’s also difficult, no doubt about it.
What advice do you have for writers?
My main piece of advice might sound simple, but I have always found it useful to never, ever force myself to get something on the page. While deadlines are unavoidable in college, some of the best work that I’ve done came when I wasn’t waiting for inspiration to strike, and had moved on to something else. Sitting down and expecting a master stroke of genius is to set oneself up for disappointment—instead, break the assignment down into its smallest parts, and get through them one by one. If the wave of creativity catches you along the way, wonderful. If not, the most important thing is that you’ve finished whatever it is that you needed to do. Then, the real work—editing—begins.