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Carolyn Pittenger Carolyn Pittenger McGill Unive rsity McGill Unive rsity Fal l, 2007 Fal l, 2007
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A writer is not so much someone who has something to say, as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. — William Stafford -gklhgiwgist22twgigydg20-33- Strong writers develop a writing process that works for them. Since different writing projects require different approaches, you can strengthen your writing ability by building a wide repertoire of strategies. You need strategies to solve the problems that occur during the various stages of writing: creating ideas, planning and organizing, composing texts, revising drafts, editing the final draft, and proofreading. Start early . Leave sufficient time to write and re-write in stages. Getting an early start is probably the single most important strategy you can use. Last-minute starts are almost guaranteed to produce rushed and imperfect work. In this class, a wise approach would be to read carefully the instructions for all of your assignments. Get an overview. When you understand what you are being asked to do, you can begin to think of topics for each project. Don’t wait to finish one assignment before planning the next one. Be a multi-tasker! Start by writing & chunking . Academic writers often make the mistake of not writing anything until they have researched and read everything on their topic. Since reading is a lot easier than writing, they find themselves taking endless notes with no draft in sight. A better strategy is to start by writing down your concerns and questions, your partial understandings. Use them to guide your reading. Also write up responses to your readings as you go along. Then you will have a lot of “stuff” to begin playing with. Set sub-goals . Instead of sitting down to complete a paper in one sitting, reduce anxiety and writer’s block by setting manageable sub-goals. Mark preliminary deadlines for each sub-goal on your calendar (“Finish research on Friday. Do outline on Saturday. Write for two hours each day until draft is completed. Write second draft….”). Reward yourself for each goal you accomplish! Think creatively. In the early stages of any project, begin by allowing creativity to flourish in a relaxed atmosphere. Play with ideas. Don’t be self-critical. Don’t censor this play as “stupid.” Give yourself time and space to do a lot of idea generating. Sleep on your ideas; let your dreams help too. Brainstorm . Turn off your internal editor. Jot down as fast as possible any ideas that come to mind about your topic. Use short phrases instead of sentences. Don’t reject anything. Often the seed of a great idea lies hidden in an absurd one. For even more creative juice, brainstorm with others.
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