As I sit pondering my paper's topic, of which I am still uncertain, I realize a monumental issue with the paper writing process, topic picking. I can't say for certain that everyone faces the issue of topic indecision but I can say that everyone I have ever met has. Everyone everywhere in the paper writing world of academia must write a paper over a topic. It can be difficult to choose a topic for a few reasons--maybe you can't write about the topic chosen or you failed entirely to figure out what is worth gracing your paper. Just stop, relax and take a moment to think.
Paper writing is a wonderful exercise in communication. Communication is the glorious device used to convey thoughts from one person to another and the written word is an immortalization of human genius. Paper writing is amazing if you stop to think about it. It shouldn’t be a chore and come as easily as talking. Don’t try to force it, let it come out naturally, words flowing from your finger tips like raindrops from clouds, instead of trudging your pen across the paper so hard that you leave grooves in the table.
First you need an idea. Take a moment to think: what have you learned? What interested you? What did you like? What made you ask questions? The answer to these questions is something that engaged you and would be engaging to your reader. Take this idea that you have passion for and put it to words, put those words on paper, receive an "A" for the assignment. It’s almost that easy.
We have all written papers that we cared nothing for. We did this because we felt we had to. Who could imagine writing something enjoyable? It doesn’t have to be that way. If you care for your topic, it becomes less of a chore and more of a labor of love. If you do this, it will make life easier and it will show in your writing.
Find your passion and run with it.
P.S. If you can't think of something you liked, pick something that you hated least.
The writing concepts for essays can vary depending on the course or program they relate to, but the core structure usually remains the same. These guidelines may help in the process of writing essays effectively:
-Subject + Argument (or Claim) --> define them clearly
-Research/brainstorm the required evidence/reasoning behind claim
-Intro paragraph --> Do your best to spark interest for the reader; claim is presented in thesis statement
-Maintain focus of your claim throughout your body paragraphs --> each parapraph dictates an idea or point from your claim; your job is to elaborate on it
-Conclusion paragraph --> restate thesis (but never word for word) and provide further insight if necessary
-Finalize --> thoroughly check for grammatical and structural errors (Software programs such as Microsoft Word won't always catch them!)
-Citations/Bibliography --> make sure that they are of the correct format (MLA, APA, etc.)
-Title for paper --> Eye-catching and relevant (this can be established early on in the writing process)
Hopefully these steps aid you in creating well thought-out essays in the future. Happy writing!
Are you struggling with writing lab reports in your science classes? Do you need help finding peer-reviewed scientific articles to support your reports? Come visit us and we can help you organize your information in the proper lab report style and give you some great tips on how to locate peer-reviewed articles!
Have you ever had the urge to play with words? Do you wonder if you are the only one? Well, you're not! All those who are interested are welcome to attend today's Creative Writing Group meeting from 3-4 p.m. in the Writing Center, where writers share their ideas, read their work, and enjoy starting new work with some writing activities. We look forward to seeing you here.
~The Writing Consultants
At this point your professors may have graded and returned your midterm exams. These tests can be a valuable tool to you even after they have been graded. Studying your graded exams can improve your test-taking abilities. If you got a bad grade on the test, you can review it to see what type of question (essay, true/false, multiple choice, etc.) gave you the most trouble. Also you can determine what course material you needed to study more. If you did poorly on material that was covered in the beginning of the course, but did well on questions regarding more recent material, you may want to study the early material throughout the term so that you don’t forget it.
With that said, you don’t have to get a bad grade on a midterm to learn from it. You can learn just as much from a test on which you got a good grade. This means that your methods of studying worked. Also, going over the test, no matter what grade you got on it, can give you insight into what the professor is looking for, how he or she grades, and what type of questions you should be prepared to answer. If you don’t know what to expect on a test, you can study too hard. Studying too much for one test can take away time that you could spend preparing for another test, and studying too hard just before a test can tire you out so that you may not do as well on the test. Looking over graded tests can help you streamline your studying so that it is most efficient.
And always remember to apply your writing skills to all your schoolwork, tests included. Good writing isn’t something to reserve for big papers. The more we practice, the more we will learn. Tests can be excellent tools for learning more about writing.
With only a few weeks of class left until summer, it may be hard for some students, including me, to stay motivated. To help with this problem, I have come up with a few ideas that have helped motivate me in the past and will hopefully help you.
Create a routine: Finding time for homework each day is hard enough but without a routine, it may be nearly impossible. Everyone is busy this time of year, so setting a routine is important. Set aside a time each day to sit down and do your homework or study. Regardless of if it is before or after class, between class and practice, or after work, you are more likely to do your homework if you make it a part of your daily routine.
Set goals: Give yourself something to work toward. Without a goal in mind, you may feel as though you are not accomplishing anything. By setting a goal, you are able to push yourself to reach the “finish line” and you will feel better about meeting your goal. Also, setting goals will help you manage your time. For instance, say it is Tuesday and your paper is due Friday. Plan to write half of the paper Tuesday and the other half Wednesday. This will give you time to look over the entire paper and possibly set up a Writing Center appointment before your paper is due.
Have rewards: Once you meet or exceed your goals, reward yourself. After finishing a paper or turning in an assignment, let yourself have a snack or watch a tv show. Knowing you have a reward waiting for you after you finish your assignment will help motivate you.
Take breaks: Writer’s block? Can’t get through a reading assignment? Take a break. While a reward helps push you through an assignment, sometimes you just need to step away for a while. Go for a walk or listen to music; after a while, come back to your assignment with a clear and open mind.
Hopefully these tips can help you keep up with the last few weeks of class. Just remember that although the countdown to summer has begun, school is happening now.
Need something to do this Friday, March 18? Come to the Writing Center to participate in a writers' group open to everyone. Please bring some writing to share or come to listen. The event is at 3:00 p.m., and refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!
Doing research is for essays gets tricky. With the power of the internet just about anybody can put out information. So finding legitimate sources for your papers and projects can seem like a nightmare. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned through trial and error.
1. Google Scholar is pretty much my new best friend. Not only does it pull up journal articles, it pulls up books based on the topic you search. Most of the books have a preview, which makes life wonderful because you can search through the book online. It also lets you search by dates, so if you have a professor who only wants sources from the year 1999 and up, Google lets you get specific. This website saved my life during my Shakespeare final paper.
2. Wikipedia, now before you have a mini heart attack and think “but my professor tells me NOT to use this site.” Your professor is right, but the great thing about Wikipedia is the links at the bottom of the page, this is where the people who put the page together have to site their sources. At the bottom of the page SHOULD be a list of website where the creator pulled their information from. Use these.
3. Avoid “.com’s” at the end of sites, I know this maybe frustrating but “.com” means “.commercial” that means some sponsor could be paying for that site to be up, they could be bias on what is on the webpage. Using .org or .edu is always a good idea. Remember is the website looks shady (not put together well, spelling errors, or broken links) it’s not a good site to use.
4. If you find pages with titles like hubpages.com/inserttopichere or anglefire.com/blahblah, these are websites that people can make for free, most of the time they are NOT a good source of information. They can be made by almost anyone with enough time to waste.
Now that you have all your information, citing it can be a nightmare. APA, MLA and Chicago Style could make any sane student want to pull their hair out. But check out this awesome website to help make your life a little less stressful.
1. http://citationmachine.net- this lets you fill in the blanks with what information you have and automatically formats the citation for you. It also give you your in-page citation (which always seems to get tricky when you don’t have a date, page number or author).
Undoubtedly, we all have at least one paper to write in each of our classes this term. Sometimes we are even required to take these papers into the Writing Center before turning them in to get feedback from a consultant as part of our professor’s grading requirements.
At times, this is the only contact some students have with the Writing Center, which leads them to believe that the only service we provide for them here is paper proofreading and editing. In the last couple weeks, many students in this situation have stopped into the Writing Center for this very reason – either for the first time ever and unsure of how to go about scheduling an appointment, or after many previous visits for other papers and confident they will receive the help they are looking for.
However, other students have visited us lately looking for help with very different assignments. Things like speeches, resumes, cover letters, and citation worksheets have all been brought in by students who need assistance on where to begin these projects or simply want a second pair of eyes to look over their nearly finalized product. These are even students who have readily come in with papers in the past but are now hesitant to bring in assignments like these because they are not technically “papers.”
I guess my point in mentioning all of this is to encourage all students in all classes with any writing or writing-related homework to bring these assignments to us if they need any assistance with them. Those who did and learned that we were happy to help them with their work often commented, “I didn’t know you guys looked at things other than papers. If I would have known that, I would have brought in some of my past assignments a long time ago!”
So, always feel free to bring in your papers and any other related work into us – whether you need assistance getting started or are ready to apply the finishing touches – and we will work with you on them to help your writing shine.
Just as a reminder, we are open for you on Monday-Thursday from 9:00-5:00 and 6:30-9:00, on Friday from 9:00-3:00, and on Sunday from 6:30-9:00.
Best of luck in all your writing endeavors – papers and otherwise!
Need something to do on Friday?
Well, this Friday, the 4th of February, there is an OUT LOUD event for any and all creative writers. It’s in the Liberal Arts Auditorium across from the Writing Center. You can read one of your own pieces or sit and listen to others read theirs.
Where: Liberal Arts Auditorium
When: Friday, February 4th
What time: 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Bring a friend and something to read
Hope to see you there!