Tag Archives: writing process

Some New Goodies

8 Jan

new stuff

I’ve been working, when time permits, on creating a library of printables for the Writing Center. And now, I’ve finally figured out an easy way to share them electronically – yay! You can find them by clicking Printables (upper right beneath the title of the blog) or by scrolling down (right hand column, directly underneath Recent Posts). You can also find hard copies at the Writing Center (white binder behind our table).

So far, there are only a handful but I aim to have many, many more by the end of the year. If you need help with breaking down your assignment, writing an abstract, crafting a hook, or creating transition, then check out one of the Writing Center printables.

Is there an issue you’d like us to address? Leave a comment & I’ll create an info sheet ASAP.

Loop de Loop

27 Sep

Continuing the series on prewriting strategies, today’s post is about looping. This strategy is similar to brainstorming/free writing but with a slight tweak. Grab a piece of paper and let’s get to…

– Looping

Write the subject/topic at the top of the page. Set a timer and free write. I’d suggest setting it for 10 minutes max to get started. The most important thing about free writing is to keep your pen or pencil moving the entire time. Don’t censor, edit, criticize, over think; just write. Even if you find yourself writing things like “I don’t know what to write about” or “I’d rather be outside” or whatever, keep that pen a-moving. Ideas will come, trust me.

Once time is up, go over what you’ve just written and circle the ideas/thoughts that interest you the most. Now flip your paper over and write your first circled subject/topic at the top of the page. Set a timer and free write again.

Rinse and repeat until you’ve looped through all of your primary circled ideas.

Once done, you should have a few pages of thoughts. You may only keep a couple of them but this is a quick and easy way to generate a lot of ideas in a short amount of time.

If you’d like help looping, come on in to the Writing Center! We’re here Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. Sign up for an appointment in the Library (see the main counter) or email lincolnwriting@gmail.com

Mapping the Mind

26 Sep

Continuing the theme of the brainstorming post, let’s dive into another prewriting strategy – clustering or mind mapping.

This is a strategy that I’m sure many of you have done and, even if you haven’t, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept.

– Clustering/Mind Mapping

Write down your main idea/premise in the middle of a piece of paper and circle it. Go beyond the title of the novel, the name of the scientific formula, etc. For instance, gender roles in The Great Gatbsy is going to generate far more interesting connections than just plain ole The Great Gatsby.

(There are mind mapping programs out there but I really recommend sticking with pen and paper – besides the fact that it’s easier to capture your thoughts with pen, it’s so easy to “lose” a thought to a computer screen)

Now, just let the ideas flow. Write all the words/phrases that come to mind around your central circle. Just write. Do NOT edit yourself, do NOT worry about making connections just yet. All you want to do is write.

Once you feel good about what you’ve got down, start making connections. The first connection will be back to your central circle, of course, but look for connections between the sub-circles. Take a look at this for an example.

Not all clusters look alike either so don’t feel you have to follow some formula. Most mind maps start off looking like this but if the herringbone style makes more sense to you, go for it!

If you can’t figure out what to write about, try using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast your two top choices.

Use whichever type of cluster, mind map, diagram, spider map, etc. that works for you!

If you’d like help clustering, come on in to the Writing Center! We’re here Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. Sign up for an appointment in the Library (see the main counter) or email lincolnwriting@gmail.com

The Process of Invention

21 Sep

                                © Kimberly Vohsen

I’ve already posted about breaking down your assignment to ensure complete understanding so now let’s move to the next stage of the writing process – prewriting!

Prewriting is the writing you do before your actual writing. Clear as mud, right? Basically, it’s all the work you do in order to be prepared to sit and write your essay. This could be free writing, brainstorming, clustering, etc. A lot of students tend to pick one style and stick with it, which can be perfectly fine.

However, if you find yourself feeling stuck or bored or uninspired, stretch out and try a different approach. Who knows? Looping may bring about an idea that, perhaps, the journalist method would not.

I’ll spend a few posts going into detail for each strategy and, time permitting, provide some worksheets you can use. First up…

– Brainstorming

This is often what starts happening in your brain moments after you get the assignment. “Okay, I need to write a paper about a motif in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Hmm, maybe flight? The novel starts with a guy thinking he can fly, then Milkman leaves Michigan, oh and, his great-grandpa Solomon escaped enslavement, so that’s another type of flight.” (Should you be lucky enough to be assigned Song of Solomon, I recommend NOT using this idea – it’s been written into the ground).

So, brainstorming (aka free writing) is taking all of those thoughts and writing them down. No organization, no censoring, no cohesion, no editing – just write down any and every thought that comes to mind.

Now, after a few minutes, you’re going to want to start editing yourself, which is the exact opposite point of this exercise. To prevent this from happening, I suggest setting a timer. Maybe start with 2 minutes, step away from your work for a few minutes, another 2 minutes, so on and so forth. This should keep the inner editor at bay.

This is where I plug the Writing Center. It is so much easier just to talk rather than to try to talk and write. You could be the faster typer in the US – your brain is a lot faster.

Reminder: To make an appt, fill out the appt book on the main counter in the Library or email me lincolnwriting@gmail.com. We’re here Monday-Friday 2:30-4:30pm. Whenever you need to brainstorm, come on in!

Understanding Your Assignment

19 Sep

Seems like a simple enough task, right? And it certainly can be as long as you take the time to break it down.

The assignment, more than an outline or brainstorming, is your first step in the writing process. Misinterpreting one thing or another could make any hard work you do after totally pointless, which could result in a bad grade!

Now that we’re done with the scarywarning! part of this post, let’s talk about how you can break an assignment down into its parts.

1) Read it.

– Revelatory, I know, but hear me out. Do not fall into the trap of skimming the assignment while in class, only to read it right before you start the work. Read the assignment ENTIRELY while still in class. Then ask your teacher about anything you do not understand.

2) The Basics.

– Highlight, Underline, or Circle — choose the method that feels right to you & do so to the following:

* Due Date — I recommend writing this down somewhere else, preferably a place you look at often.

* Formatting Requirements — font & font size, page length, etc.

* Content Requirements — aka “the meat” of the assignment. What is the purpose? Is outside research required? What is expected of me?

* Miscellaneous Requirements — for example, will you have to turn in a rough draft? Are extra points possible (say for visiting the Writing Center)? Anything else?

3) The Verbs.

Looking at the verbs used in the assignment will give you a good idea as to how to approach your writing. Check out this link for a handy reference guide for commonly used verbs.

4) What if I’m Still Unsure About Something?

Go to the source & contact your teacher. If that is not possible for whatever reason, come on in to the Writing Center and we can help you!

Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to writing a great paper.


UPDATE: Found a fantastic link that I wanted to be sure to share.

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