Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prezi Newsletter

This semester's Writing Center Prezi (Newsletter) is officially available for public consumption. Have you ever wanted to know more about our tutors and their special interests? Do you want to know why people return to the writing center after that initial session? Are you curious to see the super awesome baked goods our tutors made for the WVU Writing Center Baking Contest in September? Or, are you more curious about the IWCA-NCPTW Conference that some of our tutors attended earlier this month?

Check out the Prezi HERE for the answers to these questions and more!

Special thanks to James Holsinger for heading the project and to Mollie Ballard, Amy Purpura, Caitlyn Johnstone, Stephani Smith, and Peggy Tomko for contributing stories!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Procrastination and You: Scheduling Yourself For Success

As a professional procrastinator extraordinaire, I feel qualified to attest to the late night frenzy that includes a blank computer screen and frazzled nerves. As we have all experienced this once or twice, there are some of us who make a habit of this midnight-scramble. These 2AM papers to lead us to less-than-desirable work and a feeling of doubt (not to mention extreme mental and physical fatigue). The question is not how do I avoid them, but how do I go about making sure that severely procrastinated papers don't happen at all?

The answer my friends is scheduling. But what exactly does that entail?

By scheduling I mean break up your work into smaller and more manageable pieces. For example, you can't eat an entire steak in one bite! You have to cut it into smaller pieces and work your way towards finishing the entire piece. Start out tiny! Don't have a topic or unsure about what to write? Designate one night to thinking about what you're going to do or e-mail your teacher for clarification. After that stop. Take a break. Put down your pencil and begin something else. The next night (once you've had time to sleep on it/ time for your teacher to reply to your e-mail) start with your thesis; a single sentence! The next night, compile an outline integrating what you already know about your topic and your sources. Continue breaking your paper up into sections until you have the entire assignment written. And voila, in a week to two weeks you have your paper. Remember though, to win the battle against procrastination you have to fight with heavy armor: allotted time and breaks in between sections.

However, The reason that I, and probably most of us for that matter, put off a paper is because we are uninterested in the topic, hate to write, or have no idea where to start. Allotting yourself a designated time to work on your paper is half the battle. Make sure you are in a distraction free zone and sit down. Literally forcing yourself into a situation where there is nothing else to focus on forces you to do the one thing you are meant to get done. Just remember that the only thing you really need (besides a pencil, paper, sources, etc...) is scheduled time. As long as time is on your side, you can do anything.

Go confidently in your writing and best of luck!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Topics Hunt

This is the time in the semester when teachers start assigning the ever creative, ever stressful "term paper," or something similar in nature.

Sometimes teachers are helpful and provide us students with a topic relating to something we've read or discussed in class. However, sometimes they want our creative juices to flow widely and just choose a topic out of thin air!

I have found choosing something to write about is the most difficult part of the writing process, partially because until that start point is identified, you cannot move forward.

Here are some tips for choosing a topic for your next big paper:
  • Don't pick something to write about that you hate. It will make the entire process hard and miserable, and the paper won't reflect you in the best light.
  • Think about everything you come in contact with on a daily basis. Pick up a copy of the Daily Athenaeum or read it online at http://www.thedaonline.com/. You might find something relevant to your life that would make an interesting paper.
  • Go to cnn.com or another nationwide news outlet. A current event or social issue is creative and timely.
  • If your paper requires research, make sure the topic you choose is 1. old enough to have research done about it and 2. that research is available and reliable. Check out the databases at the WVU Library's website at http://www.libraries.wvu.edu/ to make sure your topic has academic research.

Here are some tools to help you get started. Another great resource is coming to the Writing Center and having a tutor help you brainstorm. You can come to the Center at any point in the writing process, and we will help you get to the next step!