Writing is a huge part of the college curriculum, no matter what your major is. This is also true of life. Going into business? Get ready to write mission statements, 75-slide PowerPoint presentations, and business plans. Considering a field in medicine? Long-ass case studies await you. The other hard sciences? Prepare thyself to write study after study after study. Those who are interested in the humanities: You know what you're getting yourself into? Writing.
If you didn't know all that, well, now you do. But before you tear up your acceptance letter and jump on the next tuna trawler, consider this one scientific fact: Everyone hates writing. Writers especially hate writing, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to your fucking face. Everyone likes having written, but they don't like writing. The same holds true with most homework. No one likes doing homework—they like having done homework.
Take the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, for instance. He claims to hate writing, despite the fact that he's written more than 40 books in English. So how did he write all those books? He figured out how to trick himself without being cheesy and self-helpy about it. When he's writing a book, he doesn't even admit to himself that he's writing a book. He says he's "taking notes." He opens up a word-processing document and just keeps taking little notes. After he has several hundred pages of notes, he realizes that he has too much stuff and starts to edit everything down. He takes notes, and then he edits. He's removed writing from the equation entirely.
That works for him. Since you will have to take a first-year composition class or at least one writing-intensive class, you're going to have to figure out what works for you so that you don't spend hours staring at a blank page while a heavy cloud of self-deprecation and sadness forms in your head.
The only way to banish the cloud of death: Figure out what kind of writer you are and then go with it. I've been told that there are two basic kinds of writers: Rhinoceros writers and Cat writers. While I don't like weird-ass dichotomies involving animals, this one has held true for me. First, there's the Rhinoceros. This kind of writer sits down at a desk, opens the computer, and then bangs out 1,000 words of slop. The next day, the Rhinoceros returns, reads it with a clear head, edits it into shape, and bingo-bango there's the first draft.
Then there's the Cat. This kind of writer is more like Zizek. The Cat sits down, opens up the word-processing doc, writes half a paragraph, and then the moment they stop thinking, the moment their mind wanders, the moment they almost start to reread what they just wrote, the Cat instead walks away. WALK. AWAY. That's right. Walk away. Go do the dishes. Move around. Water the plants. Then the Cat comes back to write another couple sentences. The second the Cat starts to feel blocked up again, they start moving around again. This moving around creates thoughts in the Cat writer's mind, most of which will be related to the thing the Cat wants to write. The Cat needs three or four days to write what the Rhinoceros can write in two, but the Cat's stuff tends to be way more polished by the end of the first draft.
Of course, the Cat and the Rhinoceros exist on a spectrum. You might lean Cat or you might be full-blown Cat. Chances are you probably already know, you just haven't thought about it yet. In any case, once you figure out which strategy is more comfortable for you, the next thing you need to do is forgive yourself for not being the opposite thing. Rhinos wish their stuff came out perfect; Cats wish they could write faster. Don't wish! Just do. And give yourself time enough, space enough, and laundry enough to do it before the deadline.
Writing isn't just an intellectual head thing. It's physical. Another popular philosopher knew this. Aristotle would meet with students in the lyceum (a sort of gymnasium where people would hang out in ancient Greece), and then he'd mama-duck everybody all around Athens, teaching along the way. The group was called the Peripatetic school, and we still use the word "peripatetic" to mean a person who travels from place to place, a person who wanders. When you wander, unexpected things occur to you. If you can't figure out where to start your piece of writing, decide not to write and go to the gym instead. On your walk to the gym, an idea will occur to you.