Writing Center: Just Do It


Hey You

Yes you!

Do you dread writing papers?

Do you struggle with getting started?

Or does writing come naturally?

But you need someone to look over it?

Then do we have a place for you…

Visit the Writing Center!

Make an appointment or stop in during After Hours today!

You know what to do…

By Anna Drenick

How to Write a Paper


Here we are again! I’m back to my “How to” ways! I’m getting exclamation point happy I need to stop that. Okay, let’s try this again.  We are all going to have to write a paper for class. Now, while the process for doing this might seem so simple you’re thinking, “Reyna, why are you telling me how to do this? I know how to write a paper,” as you read this. However, it’s easy to miss steps of things we feel comfortable with. The writing process is going to be different for everyone. Never fret though! I am here to help you remember what general steps to take to write an ah-mazing paper (yes, I’m being cringey on purpose, I’m tired). So, without further ado, on with the show! (I don’t know, I just always wanted to say it…)

1. Brainstorm: This step seems obvious, but it looks different for everyone. This can include sitting down and writing out different ideas for what you want to write about or how you want to go about writing what your instructor has asked for. For me this is thinking a little prior to writing my paper. I consider what I’m being asked to write about and how I want to go about it. I’ll consider my topic and perhaps what I might want to research to add some support to what I’ll be writing about. Brainstorming doesn’t have to be an in-depth session of thinking really hard about what you should be writing about, a lot of what people say should happen during brainstorming can actually occur in the third step: outlining.

2. Research (optional): For some papers this is necessary, for others it isn’t. If you’re writing primarily about a book you read and just answering prompts that your professor has given you it isn’t completely necessary to do outside research unless you have been asked to by your instructor. (I realize I use instructor and professor, the terms are inter-changeable for me so I apologize if that confuses you). For a research paper, obviously, you’re going to want to do some research. I tend to do this prior to writing my paper. I’ll find articles that support whatever argument I plan on making and read them. Something I try to avoid is picking out my quotes before I write the paper. This has caused me to be so stuck on the quotes I want to use to where I shape my paper around the quotes rather than writing my argument in my own style. Not everyone will write like this, as I’ve stated writing is unique to every writer (and yes even if you aren’t an English major you are a writer).

3. Outlining: It’s important to remember all of these steps aren’t going to always be the same from person to person. For some outlining is going to go hand-in-hand with brainstorming. As ideas come and one strikes that you like you can transition into writing out how you will introduce your topic, what you’ll want to talk about in the body, and then how you’ll wrap up. From here you can get even more in-depth down to the sentence in every paragraph (here I mean what topic will be covered in every sentence). I usually wind up skipping this step and just immediately start writing because I cannot do outlining. It has never worked for me because instead of just an abbreviated version of what I will be writing about I tend to just write my entire paper. Once this is done, if you chose to do this step, it’s time for another step!

4. Writing: Now, while I could have broken the process of writing down into multiple steps (Writing the intro, your thesis statement, body paragraphs, and the conclusion) I felt like that was overkill. Writing can be as free as just sitting down and writing your paper to as strict as having a specific structure a professor asks you to follow. I always prefer being free to write as I please, I cannot write within this itty-bitty box, I’ve got my own, weird style of writing and everyone does. So, you write your paper however you see fit, and you write, and you write, and then you write some more. Or you’ve decided to procrastinate until three hours before it’s due and play, “How many pages can I type in three hours?”

5. Editing/Revising: This step can be done on your own or can involve another set of eyes to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Meaning, use the Writing Center!!! It isn’t necessary, and I know it can be scary, but I promise we know what we’re doing and we only want to help you improve! This step is going to include making sure everything is arranged in the correct order (or the order you wanted), ensuring you don’t have any grammatical errors, and making sure you have met all of the requirements set forth by your professor. After this step, you’re done! You can turn your paper in and be confident you have done your absolute best.

With that, I have hopefully given you the best steps on how to write a paper and I wish you all happy writing!


Back to School!!


Hey, everyone, guess what?

SCHOOL IS BACK (I’m not actually this hype, but I’m trying okay?)

Writing Center hours remain the same as ever (for fall/spring semester).

We open bright and early (early because I was sleeping till 10 a.m. okay) at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday. We have scheduled appointment slots from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then drop in hours (meaning no appointment is necessary) run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I know it’s still early to be discussing papers of any sort, but we all know there will be papers due whether they’re every few weeks or term papers. Remember, we are here to help so don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment or drop in!

With that, happy writing (or class attending for the first few days)!


Welcome Back!


Summer is winding down and I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to write the dreaded back to school post. Am I the only one who thinks it didn’t feel like summer? I was still taking classes, still not getting enough sleep :c /sigh. Anyways, with classes starting today I thought it would be good to remind everyone what the Writing Center’s hours are during the fall semester as well as discuss some what we can help with!

Our fall semester hours (which will also be applicable to spring semester but just let me die because it’s spring semester and I want more sleep) are 9 a.m. –  6 p.m. with an appointment and then After Hours (w/o an appointment) are from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. We are open Monday through Thursday, so if you have something due Friday at midnight you will need to come in on Thursday if you chose to procrastinate or we won’t be open to help out!

(I don’t even know why I’m just using The Office memes but you cannot tell me these aren’t moods.) Now, in terms of why you should use the writing center, first of all we are awesome so I mean there’s that. However, we can also help with any stage of the writing process. If you are stuck trying to get started? We can help. If you don’t know how to write a thesis statement? We can help. If you don’t know how to end your paper? We can help. If you just want another set of eyes to go over your writing before you turn it in? We can help. If you want to make sure you wrote a lab report correctly? We can help! Seriously, anything you might have a problem with here in the writing center we will be able to help!

So yeah, this is my wake up call for everyone that school is right around the corner and I will be hiding under a desk because I just want a break man is that too much to ask? In all seriousness, the Writing Center can be very beneficial, and if your professor requires you to come in and see us I promise we aren’t as scary as you might think! With that, happy last few weeks of summer, sleep as much as you can, have fun! The Writing Center’s last day for the summer is this Friday, July 27th, we will re-open on the first day of classes, August 20th, see you all then!


Writing Emails to Professors


We have all had to email our professor at some point, I just had to email one of mine requesting they allow me to take an exam early. What’s hard is figuring out just how to word the email to be professional, we want our professors to take us seriously, even if their responses are not what we wanted. I’ve sent plenty of drafts to my mom or my friends making sure what I was saying sounded okay and wasn’t going to come off wrong. I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give everyone a kind of outline on how to write an email to their professor (or really to anyone you respect and want to present a professional air to).

1. Beginning!

Beginning your email is going to be very important. While you might notice when your professor emails you back it is much more casual than the email you wrote it is important to begin with proper everything, the whole nine yards. This will show respect to your professor and that you have put some serious thought into emailing them rather than typing out an email without considering what you need to say and how you should address the professor. Now, while it is safe to say, “Professor (insert last name)” generally I would suggest checking if they have a doctorate, some instructors can be very finicky with how they want their students to address them. Thus, to be safe, check if they are a Dr. or not, if they are start your email with, “Dr. (insert last name),” and if they aren’t a Dr. simply begin with, “Professor (insert last name).”

2. What do you want to say?

Now, the body of your email. Wow, it sounds like I’m teaching y’all how to write a paper ^^ anyways, plan out what you want to say. You don’t want to write a four page paper, but you also don’t want to keep it so simple that your instructor isn’t going to know what you are saying. A general way to start is to introduce yourself if this is your first time emailing this particular professor and you don’t know them that well. Start with, “My name is (insert your name) and I am in your (insert class as well as the days the class meets).” This will ensure your professor knows which class it is you are emailing in relation to as well as who you are. Now you can address your problem or question. However, here you are still being formal, proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, everything here matters. You want your professor to know you are taking the class and asking them a question privately seriously. You also need to be polite, even if you aren’t this instructor’s biggest fan you don’t want to be rude or you won’t get the response you want if you get a response at all. If you are asking for an extension on an assignment I would suggest checking the syllabus first and mentioning the policy the instructor already has regarding late work (if they have one this will show you have done your “research”). This goes for anything you are emailing about, check the syllabus as you are writing the email so you are sure the question you are asking is necessary to ask the instructor about. I know this is a lot of information, but believe me from my experience with emailing professors these are things you need to know about.

3. The End!!!

Okay, now we have reached the end of the email. (Why is my mind wanting to make a joke concerning how a story is like an email it has a beginning, middle, and an end?) Anyways, so, ending your email, this is probably going to vary a little depending on what you’re emailing about, you can say “Sincerely” although I generally go on a variation of “Thank you.” If I’m asking something of my instructor I will say “Thank you for understanding” if I have a problem I say, “Thank you so much.” The ending is fairly simple as there aren’t many ways you can end the email if you want the email to still be proper and correct.

So, that’s all I have! I know it seems like a lot here, but once you get to writing the email it’s actually not that bad. I hope this has helped you some either in writing an email to a professor or writing an email to your boss or colleague. As always I have an awkward time ending my post, nothing new with that. Emailing a professor especially isn’t as scary as you think it is, if you get a response that makes it obvious your email wasn’t read or that frustrates you don’t allow it to influence the tone you take when responding. You need to remain professional that way if something does happen where you have to show your emails to someone else it is clear you were trying your best to maintain the situation professionally and not letting the misunderstandings affect your ability to remain professional. I keep using professional wow I need to stop. Anyways, happy writing!!


Writing about Literature


Okay, I honestly don’t know where this is going to go. I’m just trying to keep some useful information coming from us for the summer, but I’ll probably space out the posts because it’s so tough for me to find something that will be helpful to write about during the summer. This is going to be a list of some tips on how to write about literature. I’m sure we’ve all had to write about a book or article we’ve read at least once, I know we aren’t all English majors but English is a Gen Ed so I see y’all. It can be tough to write about what you’ve read if you aren’t sure where the paper should be going so here are some tips on how to write about literature.

Avoid plot summary – The point of an English paper is generally furthering an argument, giving stability to your argument rather than relying on summarizing what the plot was is going to make your paper that much more interesting. You can use plot points to expand your argument, but don’t let them become the sole purpose of your paper. It’s safe to assume whoever is going to be reading your paper has more than likely read whatever it is you are writing about. While this contradicts probably everything we were taught through school about summarizing being a good way to discuss a topic it takes away from the argument of a paper.

Don’t confuse author with speaker – This one is pretty common, especially when it comes to writing about poetry. Don’t automatically assume the speaker in the poem is your author speaking. This is usually never the case so it’s safer to say “The speaker feels…” or “The speaker thinks…” rather than resorting to “It’s clear here the author feels…” because you never know whether or not the author was writing from their point of view. You can use the speaker as a stand in for the author, but you have to be careful and indicate you are only relating the two rather than claiming that the speaker is the author.

Analyze, don’t judge – It’s easy to start ranting as you are trying to analyze something, especially if an aspect of the book/poem/article irritated you, this is something you want to avoid. You can insert a single sentence if you found something particularly annoying or beautiful, but for the most part avoid this. It doesn’t contribute to your argument in any way and seems more petty than clever. The purpose of analyzation is to pick apart what it is you have read and show you understand it enough to make a fully structured argument out of your thoughts.

Structure your paper like your argument – This one seems so simple until you realize you’re three pages in and you’ve really just been rambling and don’t know what your argument is anymore. For flow, and just really common sense, your paper should reflect your arguments structure. To help with this write out what it is you are arguing, Then break it into paragraphs, your introduction, some body paragraphs, and your conclusion. Make sure your paragraphs are in the same structure as your argument, otherwise it will be very easy to lose your audience if they are unsure of where you are going.

Use quotations – This will make your paper unstoppable…….okay, it might not make it unstoppable, but it will give you stronger legs to stand on when making your argument. The best evidence to support what you believe is evidence that comes straight from the text. Outside research to find resources that can be shown to support your point of view is also helpful. The use of words other than your own, as long as they are properly cited both in text and on the works cited page, will add to the strength of your argument immensely. (Does anyone else feel like I just took way too much time to say the same thing like three different ways? No? Okay, just me then.)

I hope this helps with some of the papers that you have to write. And heck, if you still are confused come into the Writing Center!! We are here to help, even during the summer!  With that, happy writing!!


How to Avoid Boredom


Hi everyone! So, I know summer is upon us and one of the problems I always face is fighting the boredom of what I can do with my time. I figure some of y’all might have this problem too so I’m gonna put together this little summer plan of what you might be able to do to fight off that boredom. I hope at least one of these helps you fight boredom and the heat.

Socialize – Yeah, I know this one doesn’t sound horribly appealing if you’re an introvert or it’s really hot outside and you don’t want to do things outside. However, if you’re looking for a way to avoid being bored talking to other humans will generally help to alleviate this. Even if it’s just a movie day with a couple friends, human contact does wonders, especially if you’re feeling kind of depressed along with the boredom. Plan a day with friends, hang out with your sibling or your whole family, do something that either gets you out of the house whether it’s meeting up with friends or going to someone else’s house, or something that will bring people to you. Interaction with other humans will help to lessen the boredom.

Journal – This is something that I’m personally taking up in my free time. From bullet journaling to simply keeping a planner this is a good way to stay organized. Bullet journals offer a different aspect of keeping things organized while still giving yourself a creative outlet. You have a new way of looking at all your thoughts no matter how you choose to journal, which for some can be key to figuring out why they’re bored and can offer a mechanism to recognize when they’re falling into boredom.

Learn something new – It seems simple, but boredom usually stems from not having something to do with your time. So take up that hobby you’ve wanted to start, learn a new language, perfect a craft you already know, take up knitting, find something new that interests you and let it occupy your time. If this means getting a job, do it. Apply for that summer job you’ve wanted, or keep it stay at home and maybe try to make something out of this new hobby. Finding things to occupy your time is going to be key to beating the boredom.

Volunteer – If you’ve been looking for ways to give back to your community then take up volunteering. Research local shelters in your area and go help out, volunteers are always welcome. If you love animals and want to spend more time around them the Humane Society is always looking for helpers to walk dogs and play with the cats. Giving back is going to feel a lot more fulfilling than sitting at home wondering what you could be doing with your time.

Clean out your closet – You know how you can go through all your clothes and still feel like you have nothing to wear? Take this extra time you have and dedicate it to really working through your clothes and figuring out what you do and don’t wear. It will free up a lot of space as well has help with indecision as to outfits. I know when I look at my clothes after doing this I wear a lot more of what I have than what I did before cleaning it out. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to donate clothes you aren’t wearing, figure out where your local Goodwill is and take clothes that aren’t too worn out to them for others to make use of. Especially if you live somewhere cold and you have old winter coats!

Take a nap – This one seems a little weird to me too, condoning napping if you have nothing else to do. However, if you really have nothing else to do and you need a little extra sleep, reward yourself with a nap! I’m not saying sleep for 5 hours in the middle of the day, but sleep for an hour so you have a little extra energy for other plans!

Watch a new show – If you’ve got some free time and have ran out of things to watch, start something new! Whether you marathon movies you’ve never seen or start a new show this will give you something to occupy your time. Heck, start a new show with a friend so you have someone to talk to the show about and you guys can maybe watch it together to play into that socializing option I mention earlier. I’d personally recommend West Wing, it’s on Netflix, it’s a 90’s political drama and I love love love it.

Rearrange a room – This does wonders for helping productivity, I can’t explain why but it always has made me feel a little bit more control when the world is being crazy. This can be as small as changing your bedroom layout to as big as redecorating a room. If you want to rearrange your room I suggest getting some grid paper, measuring the size of your room and everything in it, then drawing a scale of your room and possessions. This makes it soooooo much easier to figure out where everything can go rather than suddenly moving things and getting frustrated when nothing fits where you want it to.

Work out – I know, I know, none of us want to move when it’s hot outside, but working out doesn’t mean you have to go outside. There are plenty of workouts you can do at home, I’ve googled and believe me there are a ton. So if you want to be productive and have been looking to get in shape, or just be healthier, use this time where you’re bored to start exercising. Do jumping jacks, sit ups, crunches (which are a million times easier than sit ups), push ups, find what works best for you and work out, inside of course because inside has air conditioning.

Cook something new – This will both give you a chance to get out of the house (to get ingredients) and also a chance to socialize (invite your friends over to eat). It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with what you’re eating, this can lend to feeling bored and stuck in life. Eating the same thing over and over isn’t going to give you any joy if you are bored of the meal and are only eating it because it’s familiar. Try something new, add some spice to your meals, having some adventure for your plate may not always mean you like what you’re eating, but at least you are doing something new that might just spark experimentation with other hobbies you have.

And that’s everything I’ve got! I know some of these may not appeal to everyone, but I hope something sparks an idea in you that will fight off your boredom for long enough to get inspired! I finished this just in time to head out for the day! I hope everyone has had a good summer so far and I will see you in the next post! (It was my first day back at work after a vacation so I hope all of this is coherent XD)


The Writing Center during the Summer


Hi everyone! As the semester is winding to a close I thought it would be a good idea to give an update on what the Writing Center’s hours will be during the summer!

Our summer hours will begin on June 4th from 9 am – 2 pm Monday through Thursday!

There will not be any Walk-In hours over the summer, so make sure to make appointments for any writing assignments you may have for a summer course as you won’t be able to procrastinate and come in for help the night before it’s due!

With that said I hope you all have a wonderful summer, even if you are having to take some of those much hated summer classes! You survived another year! We look forward to working with you again, whether it be this summer or next fall!


How to Write a Blog Post


I feel like I’m doing a lot of “How To’s,” don’t you? I’m like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I’m becoming the “How to” girl. Oh whale, this one’s pretty simple folks. Everything I’m going to try to explain to you is in the title. This may not go well cause I’m very tired and dying from my allergies, but we are going to give it a go anyway!

Step 1: (I laughed as I typed this because I remembered when I was in elementary and had to write an essay explaining how to make a pb&j sandwich.) Pick a topic that interests you, and with this have a captivating title and introduction to whatever it is you may be talking about. I’m not saying you need to be like click bait so you can get people’s attention. The goal is to get their attention with the start of your post and maintain it through so they want to keep reading what you write. Unlike those click bait articles we all read half of them, get bored, and move on to something else. This is crucial in holding your audience’s interest.

Step 2: (If anyone has heard Instruction by Demi Lavato know that this is the song I’m singing to myself as I write this post.) Research what you’re going to write about! Yes, you probably chose something you know a great deal about, but still consult outside sources just for the purpose of being 100% sure. I’ve typed multiple blog posts at this point, but I still look at other people’s tips to see which are the most common when explaining what to do. It’s okay to check with different resources because it’s what you should do to not only ensure you know what you’re talking about, but also to give your readers extra information if they are really interested in the topic you are writing about.

Step 3: Make an outline. Yes, this sounds like a tip we would have where research papers or something of the like were concerned, but it’s still important to outline what you’re doing. This will make sure you stay on topic as you are writing because we all know how easy it is to lose focus and have something come out of left field when writing. Maintaining focus with your outline is going to be vital to maintaining your audience’s interest through your post. It will also assist in knowing where you want to go, as it’s not always easy to sit down and immediately start writing, so an outline will help you find your way.

Step 4: Now write! You’ve got the outline, now you can go about writing your blog post with some idea as to where you are going with the information. Don’t hesitate to add in pictures or gifs, because both can assist in amusing your audience and maintaining their attention. Our posts are perfect examples of this, as we add in relevant gifs and memes when we so desire it. I’m not saying you should throw in this week’s Spongebob meme, keep it related to your topic, but don’t intentionally avoid humor. This blog is yours, and you’re allowed to let your emotion color what you’re doing.

Step 5: Now it’s time for revision and posting your first blog post, I’m so proud of you! Ah, yes, I love making jokes to myself as I type, it keeps me entertained. This step is important mostly for the revision process. You need to go back over your post and make sure there aren’t any grammatical errors and to ensure everything makes sense. There’s no point in publishing a post that no one is going to understand, especially if “trolls” intend to come after you for grammatical problems. I’m not saying you have to go over the post with a fine-toothed comb or send it in to the Writing Center. Read it out loud to yourself because more often than not, you’ll find any leftover problems when you hear it. If you’re still not fully confident, ask a friend to read it for a second opinion. After you’ve done this, you can post it!

And that’s all there is to it! I hope for any of you thinking of starting a blog or those who have to create a blog for a class that this helped! Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re getting it right off the bat, it’s taken me some time to become adjusted to writing blog posts. Just take it a little at a time, and you’ll be able to watch as your posts improve. Don’t get discouraged if in the beginning you don’t have a lot of people reading your blog because it takes time to develop readers who stick around. Just stick with it if you really love writing, and you’ll get there with time.

With that said, good luck everyone!


How to Write Efficiently and Effectively


Focusing your mind on writing can be hard, creative writing or otherwise. I know I will sit down to write and struggle to get out ten words, so how am I supposed to write a five page paper when I can barely get out ten words? Every student struggles with writing papers, at least the ones I have talked to, and it’s a common problem, so why haven’t we looked for ways to write faster and better? That’s what I’m here for (in theory XD) so, without further ado, here are my top ten tips for how to become a more efficient, and hopefully better, writer!

1. Break it down: While for some it is easy to sit down and pound out a ten page paper, generally it’s easier to break your paper into parts.  Write your introduction and a body paragraph one day, write a few more body paragraphs the next, and then finish up with your conclusion.  Don’t try to force yourself to simply sit in front of your computer for hours on end to continuously write a paper or a story.  You won’t get much out of it other than a headache, and your writing will likely not be your best.  Break it down, and this will save you stress in the long run and also give you a chance for breaks to help your writing, hopefully.

2. Be yourself: This one applies to both creative writers, as well as anyone writing research papers.  Don’t try to copy your favorite author when writing, but you can practice imitating their style but shape it to make it yours.  You will enjoy writing a lot more if you are using your own style to write your own characters.  Where technical papers are concerned, if you’re using outside sources, try not to use too many, and don’t imitate their style of writing in your own paper.  Even if you aren’t using sources, try your best to keep your own voice through the paper.  If you don’t usually use really technical language like “gasconade,” which means to boast or brag, (don’t worry I had to look this up, it’s not common language for most) then don’t add it to your paper.  Try to remain as true to your own voice when you can, and your paper will flow and sound a lot better.  It will also make it easier for you to write in the long run if you are comfortable with your own writing voice, as opposed to trying to mimic someone else’s.

3.  Don’t give up: Another that might seem simple, but it is oh so important.  Giving up seems like the easiest thing when you’re struggling with a paper.  This won’t help you though, you need to push through.  If you’re really struggling with development or even starting your paper, come into the Writing Center!  We are here to help and make sure you feel confident in your writing when you finally turn it in.  For creative writers, this is especially important if you are working to improve your craft.  Even if you lose the will to write some days, force yourself to write.  This will give you a portfolio of work to look back on how you have progressed, as well as possibly give you new ideas.  JUST DO IT! (Yes, I know it’s an old reference, but let me have my moment, okay?)

4. Avoid being repetitive: I know it’s very easy to reach the point in your paper where you’re simply reiterating what you’ve already said, which is redundant.  When you feel like you’re restating yourself, take a break.  Walk away.  Leave your writing alone for a little while and try to brainstorm some new ideas.  Don’t constantly restate what you’ve already stated (I’ve used “state” multiple times now as an example, try to ensure your vocabulary doesn’t get repetitive as well), it will get tiresome for both you and your reader.

5. Write from an outline: Using an outline will be helpful in forcing you to consider what the most important parts of your paper are going to be.  It will help you to seriously evaluate your topic and what you’re writing, and a lot of people push outlines without ever explaining why.  Also, keep in mind that it will force a structure onto your writing, so that means less writing in circles about what you want to talk about and more getting straight to the point. We have a post already made about Writing an Outline if you need some tips!

6. DO NOT RAMBLE: This one is hard to avoid, especially if you’re trying to meet a word count.  You can very easily fall into, “This is my name, that is, my name, which is mine as it was given to me by my parents upon my birth, my name, Reyna that is, is my name.”  This is the kind of sentence you want to avoid when writing.  You aren’t going anywhere with the sentence except in circles, and this isn’t helpful to you or your paper.  If you find yourself writing like this, take a break or try to find something about your topic that you didn’t know. This will give your brain a chance to relax and possibly supply you with a new topic to help you avoid rambling.

7. Get rid of distractions: I’ve mentioned this method before in my post “How to Focus on Studying” and it remains a good method, especially when you are trying to write. While I mention in the post I listen to music when I’m trying to study, the same doesn’t apply when I’m trying to write. Noise distracts my thought process, so it’s got to be quiet for me to write efficiently and effectively. Try this one out if you feel like you simply cannot focus on writing, ever. Turn off the TV, put your phone up, don’t have any extra tabs open on you computer or laptop, and see if it helps. At most I would only suggest an instrumental song or one that you have heard so many times it will fade into the background very easily. 

8. Brainstorm: I feel like I should point out these are in no particular order as this should have gone before number five, but it’s all the way down here /shrug. Brainstorming prior to starting your paper is probably one of the best things you can do to help your writing process along. It gives you a chance to look at all of your ideas where the topic is concerned and to figure out what main points you are looking to make.  This will also assist in writing an outline, having some kind of idea as to what you’re going to be writing about will allow you to be more productive with your ideas.

9. Plan ahead: Set aside time that is specifically for writing. This connects with get rid of outside distractions. You need to be focused to be able to write efficiently and effectively, this means you need to know that a specific chunk of your day is going to be completely cut out for writing. No outside distractions allowed, you need to concentrate on your writing so you can get a good grade on your paper or just so you can be proud of what you wrote. I did this this past weekend and shut myself in my room for a few hours to focus on writing a paper, I’d told myself I would do this all week and was able to focus better on what I was writing. Yes, I still distracted myself, but they were small distractions that were five minute breaks so my brain didn’t explode. This one is tested and approved.

10. Don’t stress: This one is last on purpose.  The top thing on my list of methods to not die while writing is trying not to stress, in the end it’s just going to muddle your writing because you don’t feel confident in what you’re doing.  Trust in yourself that you are writing to the best of your ability and try to follow some of the steps above.  It’s not a guaranteed catch all method, nothing is, but it should help put your mind at ease and improve your writing.  This means not procrastinating, I know it’s hard, but that’s what is going to stress you out the most.  Come into the Writing Center if you’re really nervous, I know it’s the second time I’m plugging us in this post, but we are here to help.  We aren’t the end all be all of knowledge, we also aren’t your professor, but we can be an extra brain to help with any problems you feel like you’re having with your paper.  Trust us, we do this a lot. 😉

I hope these ten tips will help you in your writing process. I’m not claiming these are going to work for everyone and I want to make that clear, one of the biggest things is that you are going to have to want them to work, not try them once and when one doesn’t work get upset. It takes practice and patience, and if you run out of hope come in! We’ll help you out, it’s what we are here to do, it might seem scary, but really we just want to help you feel confident in your writing. Good luck!


Elements of Academic Writing


Academic writing can be a big shock to some students, as the expectations for academia are often much different than those found in high schools or in creative works.  However, writing  in academia is a skill that can easily be learned through practice and knowledge of a few “do’s and don’ts” of the genre.  We at the Writing Center are experts at academic writing, so here are our tips for writing for academia.

Unity.  What differs between academic writing and other forms is that it is formal and logical.  The argument presented should unify the writing under a singular idea, and that idea acts as the focus of the essay.  While outside sources should be used, they should work to advance the logical argument presented, and they should be cited using a recognized style system.

Tone.  The tone of an academic piece of writing should be professional and objective.  You should avoid first or second person because they are not objective perspectives; third person forces you to work in facts, which is imperative in academic writing.  You should also refrain from appearing ignorant of your topic.  Your work should be authoritative and show that you are an expert in what you are talking about.  Therefore, instead of using phrases like “I believe” or “I think,” simply state whatever the thing is as a fact.

Clear organization.  Academic writing can sometimes cover complex and difficult-to-understand material, so it is important to make clear to the reader the meaning behind the information presented.  This is done through the use of topic and concluding sentences, evidence commentary, and thesis statements.  Although research must include empirical facts, without an overarching argument or theme, those facts have no meaning.  It is up to the writer to put the information presented into context by explaining its meaning to the larger point of the paper.

Citations.  Source attrition is imperative in academic writing.  Academia encourages the use of others’ work to support an original argument, but you must also give credit where credit is due.  With this in mind, you need to use an accepted style guide (usually APA, MLA, CMS, or ACS) to format source citation.  You should also avoid excessive quoting, and instead rely on paraphrases to maintain your own voice.

Arguments Developed by Evidence.  Academic writing requires the use of empirical evidence to support an author’s claims.  If a claim is not backed up by evidence, it can be difficult to develop a cohesive argument.  Therefore, instead of claiming that “To Kill a Mockingbird is a great work of literature,” you should instead provide reasons for this claim.  For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird is a great work of literature because it pits childhood innocence against socially-constructed assumptions about race.”  It’s best to assume that your reader will be skeptical of your argument, and you must provide relevant facts to draw them over to your side.

Argument is Stated in a Thesis Statement.  The argument of the paper should be explicitly stated in a statement found at the end of the introduction.  This is called a thesis statement, and it is absolutely essential to academic writing.  The thesis acts as the unifying concept behind all information presented in the paper.  Without a thesis statement, the paper will lack meaning, and the reader will be forced to find that meaning on their own, when we should be doing all the work for them.

Structure of Argument.  Academic writing presupposes an exact order for elements in a paper: an introduction, body, and conclusion.  Within those parts is its own structure, with the intro being composed of broad and narrowing statements, along with the thesis statement, and the conclusion including a restatement of the thesis statement, a review of evidence, and the all-important “So what?” that explains the importance of your work.  For more information on the internal structures of these components of an academic paper, see our previous posts: How to Structure Introductions and ConclusionsPerfecting the Body Paragraph, and Writing a Thesis Statement.

Sometimes writing in academia can be like writing in a whole new language.  There are lots of expectations for this type of writing, which can be hard for newbies to pick up on.  That’s why English Comp classes can be so difficult, especially if you weren’t taught about academic writing high school.  Luckily, we at the Writing Center are well-versed in all things writing and work with students who struggle with academic writing every day.  Feel free to hit us up if you have questions!  Good luck and happy writing!

[Victoria Ho]