Some thoughts on ways to make writing easier English 1101 Karen Roop
Grammar… • …comes at the end, then proofreading after that • While you’re writing the first drafts, turn off the grammar and spell checker on Word. They inhibit free thinking, brainstorming, freewriting and are too distracting. • Once you’ve written the essay and done some of your own proofreading and editing, then turn Word’s spell checker/grammar checker back on and see where you still have issues. • This will keep you from relying too much on Word for spelling errors.
Nothing to say… • When you say that you run out of ideas or start making stuff up (fluff) that comes from not generating enough ideas/text. • Rarely will you write in any setting just from what’s in your mind at any given moment. • Learn a few tricks to generate text like prewriting strategies we’ve been trying: • Freewriting • Listing • Drafting • Outlining
Vocabulary – Bigger is better! • Increase vocabulary by marking words you don’t know when reading, then • look them up, writing out the definition • This locks them into your memory. • If you can use them in your writing – even better.
Brain Freeze • Linked to inadequate vocabulary • is the frustration over not being able to think of a word while writing • causes you to lose focus and forget what you’re writing.
Brain Freeze continued • My solution: • If I can’t think of a word within just a couple of seconds, I force myself to just type a blank line where the word should go and continue with the sentence. I don’t look up words at this point. • Then, I come back to it when I’m going over the first draft. Often the word doesn’t even matter because I have changed the sentence or rearranged the paragraphs, etc. • But typing the line keeps me writing, and I don’t lose focus.
Staying on Topic • Outlining may be a good way to keep you from straying off topic – • Doesn’t have to be a formal outline – can be as simple as a few notes on what you want to cover – what are the important points. • Question? should we work through at least one of our essay projects with an outline?
Outlining? • A Strategy: • Use the outline sections as topic sentences in the paragraphs. • Make all sentences in that paragraph link to topic sentence. • Use the last sentence in paragraph to introduce the subject of the next paragraph. • Keeps you on topic and adds coherence.
Beginnings • It’s difficult to come up with the perfect beginning paragraph or even the perfect beginning sentence – so don’t! • Don’t start with the introduction. • Start by writing some version of your thesis statement on the top of the page. • Then, if you have a few notes about where you want to go or even just some freewriting, start with your first point or the first idea you have. • Get writing and keep writing until all of that is exhausted.
Beginning continued • Go back and look at what you’ve done and see if/where you need to rearrange, add stuff, etc. • Figure out if you’ve stuck to your topic, if your paragraphs deal with one controlling idea or if you need to break them up some more.
Still more on beginning… • This is where even an minimal outline of areas you want to cover will help. • Did you cover all the areas? • Do you need to freewrite some more? • Do you need to do some more research? • Where can you add a quote from your research that will reinforce your point?
Conclusions • Should not just restate the introduction • answers the “so what” question • link them to the bigger picture • Should broaden the perspective of the paper, sometimes even offering a new idea
Don’t forget the audience… • Many of you implied in your essays that when you write, what’s important is what you want to say. • That is important – but • think about it from the standpoint that you’re writing for an audience • always remember that it’s not what you want to say, it’s what the audience needs to hear. • This is especially important when we think of the rhetorical strategies and getting our point across.
Remember that all writing needs to be edited • Don’t feel bad about creating “shitty first drafts” as Anne Lamott calls them • Take pride in what you write • Keep writing!