The Elle Woods Approach

By Molly Couch

At this point in the semester, things have become overwhelming. The weather won’t decide on a season, that last deadline passed only to give rise to a new one, and we have to start looking ahead to next semester already to schedule classes and meet with our advisors and plan out our entire lives.

This is the part of the semester that can get a little blurry when you look back; you know it happened, but all you know is that you existed stressfully and somehow muddled through to where you are now.

When this time of year hits, it’s time to take the Elle Woods approach.

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This Legally Blonde protagonist is one of my favorite role models, and for good reason: she knows when to take herself seriously, and when to let go and have fun. She knows how to balance her life: academics and socializing, work and play, fact and fashion. Elle is an extremely intelligent young woman, but her ultimate success lies in her specialized knowledge and life experience; after all, sometimes it pays off to know that you can’t shower after getting a perm because you risk deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate.

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So what does Elle Woods have to do with writing? I’m glad you asked.

A college student herself, Elle sets an important precedent for us: there are absolutely times to buckle down and get to reading and research and writing, just as there are times for costume parties and manicures and Cosmo.

Elle knows that it can be the hardest thing in the world to write that paper or to do the reading (or to come to the Writing Center). Doing well academically is kind of the point of college. But don’t sacrifice your well-being for another hour of staring listlessly at a blank Word document! Be kind to yourself! Figure out what you need, not just what you want, and address it accordingly.

Are you spending too much time scrolling through Facebook or Tumblr? It’s probably time to get back to work. Have you been driven to pull your hair out over this assignment? Maybe that’s a sign to take a step back and take care of your other needs.

Need some suggestions? Elle can help!

  • Drink enough water and eat regularly: if your body can’t function properly, then that paper’s never going to get done.
  • Exercise: “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” While I hope you all aren’t considering murder, inactivity can easily lead to frustration. Take stock of your time and head outside for some fresh air. The Preston Center is available to students, but even taking a fifteen minute walk around campus can help. Put that hill to use!
  • Use your support system: your friends, your classmates, your professors, your RAs, and all the other various resources that WKU offers are here for you when you need them.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself: this is probably the trickiest tip on the list, but it can help in a big way. Here at the Writing Center, the tutors keep a lighthearted record of their “failures” and “successes”: burned your tongue on a pop tart? That counts as a failure, but laughing it off can make it sting a little less (figuratively, not physically). Take the stairs instead of the elevator today? That’s a success, and you should be proud of yourself. Notice the little successes and use them to fight the less fun parts of life.

You can write that paper, finish that presentation, fly through that exam – don’t bend and snap that pencil; just keep in mind the Elle Woods Approach. Balance is key, and taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your schoolwork.

And don’t forget that one of your resources here is the Writing Center! Our tutors know just what you’re going through and can help, but only if you come and visit us!

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