Category Archives: Writing

Drafting

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What do you like to do in your spare time? (Yes, I do realize asking medical students what they like to do in their “spare time” is kind of ridiculous, but hear me out anyway). I like to bake (especially if it involves chocolate and/or butter). And I tend to not follow recipes when doing so; I might glance at one for the basics, but I’m more prone to tweaking the ingredients as I go along—dropping X and adding in Y, for example—until I come up with a finished treat. Through process, trial (and sometimes error), good things come to those who bake. And the same concept can be applied to writing, I think. Writing, like baking, requires trial and error, process and patience.

In previous posts on this topic, we discussed the writing process and its first stage (prewriting). In this post, we’ll discuss the second stage—drafting—in greater detail. When you draft a paper, you take the jumble of ideas that you developed in the prewriting stage and start to add some sense and order to them.  You begin to organize the information more logically into separate paragraphs, and you create connections between these paragraphs and your thesis statement (the overall point of your paper).

Some things to keep in mind as you draft:

1.) Writing begets more writing: As you write, you’ll likely discover (and write down) additional ideas or thoughts connected to your topic. Some writers find it best to focus on the body of the paper prior to drafting an introduction/finalized thesis statement.

2.) You still don’t have to worry about the little details: As with the previous two stages, when drafting, don’t worry too much about spelling, grammar, or sentence structure. Focus on building your ideas into supportive body paragraphs.

3.) You can (and probably will) change your mind: Drafting is just that: a preliminary version. You will likely go through several drafts before you consider a piece of writing “final.”

In the next post, we’ll go over the final stages of the writing process: proofreading and editing. In the meantime, happy writing, or baking…or whatever it is that you do in your spare time.

Need help? Stop by Academic Support: 690 Walnut Ave, #215.

 

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Prewriting

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at prewriting (you might want to read the first post in this series by clicking here).

Prewriting describes the work you do before you begin to write; these strategies can help you generate ideas. What are good prewriting strategies? Consider the following:

Brainstorming (Listing): Quickly jot down your thoughts and ideas as they come to you. Some writers like to use bullet points or list their ideas in short phrases. When you brainstorm, don’t worry about connecting or clearly expressing your thoughts. You’ll clarify what you’re trying to say later on. In the prewriting stage, it’s important to just RELAX and let your ideas flow without judgment or worry. (By the way, if you have a couple of minutes, try this technique for calming your mind prior to beginning your work).

Freewriting (Journaling): This strategy is similar to brainstorming in the sense that you’re focusing on getting your ideas and thoughts down on paper. While brainstorming resembles a list of short phrases, however, freewriting usually consists of full sentences. Think of freewriting like a journaling exercise. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Again, relax and let your ideas flow without judgment, worry, or censorship. If you can’t think of what to write, put that phrase down on your paper: “I can’t think of what to write.”

Clustering (Concept Mapping): Clustering helps you form associations between thoughts and ideas. Usually, you begin clustering with a single thought or idea in a circle in the middle of your paper. You then create a “map” of associated words/thoughts/ideas in other circles around the middle circle and draw lines to show the associations between the different words/thoughts/ideas. Take a look at the following example:

clustermap

 

So there you have it: three different prewriting strategies to try out on your next writing assignment. In our next installment, we’ll take a closer look at the next stage of the writing process.

Need help? Have some other ideas you’d like to try out? Stop by Academic Support at 690 Walnut Ave, #215.

Cheers,

Katie Brundage

The Write Stuff

One of my favorite grammar jokes goes, “The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar. It was tense.” As you join me in my overly-unbridled enthusiasm deep appreciation for the subtle witticisms that are grammar jokes like this one, you might wish to consider a related topic: verbs (and the time and action that they convey) are not the only sources of tension in your lives as graduate students. It has come to my attention that writing, in general, is a big headache for a lot of you. Thus part of my job as a Learning Specialist is to help you overcome these headaches by providing you with the necessary resources and strategies. And hey, I might even get you to like the writing process.

The key word here is process. Writing is—and should be—regarded as a process. It is rare that any person can sit down in front of his or her computer, tablet, or phone and construct a perfectly-crafted piece of writing on the first take. Many students fail to consider that the writing process is just that: one of drafting and revising…and drafting and revising again…and again…and (lastly) editing and proofreading.

You might think of the writing process like this:

wp1

Or this:wp2

Or this:

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Which writing process is best? Whichever one works for you.  Each student’s writing process is unique. You will need to experiment to find what works best for you. Regardless of the process you use, there are similarities between each: drafting, revising, and editing. Some students find it extremely helpful to prewrite before they actually begin writing. Your last step in the process should be proofreading.

In the next post, we’ll go over these steps in greater detail. In the meantime, think about your own writing process: what works? What would you like to improve?

If you are needing assistance with strategies for efficient learning or writing, please feel free to contact the Academic Support Office at Touro University, California for a consultation or support.