Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Moving Past Disappointment

On Saturday, October 13, the Mountaineers suffered their first defeat. With hopes for a perfect season dashed, players and fans felt disappointed, to say the least. However, we don’t have much time to dwell on this blunder since we face the Wildcats on Saturday.
Like a football player or fan, a writer often has to move past disappointments. One of the worst feelings that can overwhelm a writer occurs when a professor returns your paper absolutely covered in red pen. At this point, it can be easy to give up. Some writers don’t realize, however, that this seemingly disastrous predicament provides the best chance to really impress your professor – not to mention, yourself. Has your professor provided you with the opportunity to revise your paper? Yes? Great! The question then becomes how to transform your paper.
The first thing to do is to identify what works and what doesn’t work within your paper. Is your topic too broad? If this is the case, you can narrow your topic by focusing on one main point and the implications of that point. An example of a broad paper topic is, “Chocolate is delicious.” A way to make this topic more specific would be to name the type of chocolate that is the most delicious and why. The new and improved topic could be something like, “Milk chocolate is delicious because its creamy texture melts in your mouth, making the taster happier by the second.”
If your topic was great but you didn’t support your argument well enough, try to add more force to your point. Go back and reread your paper from the opposite point of view. Do you see any claims you make that you would disagree with in this state of mind? If so, try to add emphasis to your original point. For the chocolate paper, you could reread the paper from a chocolate hater’s point of view.
Maybe your topic and support were great but your organization could be better. If this is the case, you’re probably better off than you imagined. Try taking a copy of your paper and cutting out each paragraph. With each paragraph separated, you can try different ways of organizing your ideas. The best part of this process is that you get to completely destroy and reconstruct your paper without doing lots of hard work!
Even if your professor will not allow you to revise your paper, you still have a chance to impress him or her with your next paper. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. For whatever reason, your original technique isn’t what your professor was looking for. A new approach might be exactly what you need to revitalize your paper. Most importantly, remember to take this great opportunity to really prove to yourself and your professor what you can accomplish!

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