Friday, November 13, 2015

Organizing Your Essay Ideas

Hello Roxy Readers! It’s been a busy, busy time on The Fourth this semester. I haven’t even had time to surf! I still like to keep all my surfing gear organized, though. It means I’ll be ready to roll when I do find a chance to hit the waves. This made me think of the importance of organization in writing. Finding a good flow is very important to an essay; if your ideas are all jumbled, then your reader will not be able to follow your argument. Think of your essay like a formula. Once you have your ideas organized, you just plug in everything in between. Remember that good organization can be the difference between an easy-to-follow essay and a really confusing one. A writer may have good thoughts and arguments, but if they're poorly organized, then it doesn't matter.

An essay has three main parts: a thesis statement, supporting arguments, and a conclusion. Your thesis is your argument. This is what ties your entire paper together. Try to have a thesis before you start writing your paper, but if you don't have a polished thesis at this point, don't worry. There’s no need to force it. You will have a thesis eventually, but you also have to remember that it is the most important component of your paper. Your arguments are going to support your thesis, and your conclusion is going to restate your thesis.

So, hypothetically, now that you have your thesis, you can follow that up with your supporting arguments or evidence. If you find that you can't come up with much in the way of supporting points, then you may need to reevaluate your thesis. Your conclusion should restate your thesis. Notice I said restate, not repeat. You should use different words. You don’t want to introduce new material in your conclusion; leave all of that to your body paragraphs. See how it all fits together?

The easiest way to organize your thoughts is to create an outline. Here is a sample of what an outline could look like.
Include a thesis stating your argument.
Supporting point #1
Evidence that backs up your thesis and proves your point.
Supporting point #2
Supporting point #3
Restate your thesis in a different way and tie up your paper.

This really helps when you're stuck. It’s like a road map to follow. Your ideas are organized! Just like my surfing gear. If everything still seems all jumbled, visit us on The Fourth. We’re always happy to help you.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Finding Your Writing Process

Ever heard of the term “writing process”? It’s the different steps we work through while completing writing assignments. Before you can tackle the writing process, you need to find your personal writer process.  Discovering your process is much like preparing to surf. It takes practice. There are different ways to tackle it, but your final goal is to catch a wave. To reach that goal, you have to try different techniques to find the one that suits you best.

Learning to Surf:
Surfboard – longboard or short board? Rent or buy?
Wet Suit – full body or shorts?
Surf Wax – which one? So many different brands.
Leash – What style? You don’t want to lose the board.

Finding your Writer Process:
Where—at home alone? At a coffee shop? On the Fourth?
How—very quiet? With music? Handwritten? Typed?
When—first thing in the morning? Late at night? Middle of the afternoon?
Equipment—colored pen? Favorite pencil? Tablet and tunes?

Every surfer has a signature style shredding the waves. Every writer has a customized method of composing ideas. Part of the fun of learning the craft (surfing or writing) is discovering our own personal style.     

You may discover that when you allow yourself to write the way you want to, writing becomes fun! It will also become easier. Remember Roxy Readers, your writer process is fluid. It ebbs and flows like the ocean tides and you’ll find a method that works for you.

Here is a great link from the National Council of Teachersof English (NCTE) to help you get started on your path to self-discovery.

Ultimately, you’ll be up and out on that wave writing, revising, and editing.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Write it in Stone

 Hey Roxy Readers – today is officially the last full day of summer! We’re in full swing at the Stone Writing Center and so happy to see everyone! Whether you're a new face or a regular, the SWC is here for you. We’re so multi-faceted that we needed an entire blog post to tell you about us.

Where we are: Our brick and mortar is on the 4th floor of the White Library, East Campus. Once you get to the 4th, one of our many helpful staff members can direct you to wherever you need to be.

When we’re open:
8a -7p/ Monday-Thursday
8a - 1p/ Friday
10a - 3p/ Saturday
Closed Sunday

Where we are online: You’ll find all our contact info there, too. We are also on Twitter, so please follow us! We’re @theSWC.

What we do: If you need help with a writing assignment, college app letter, résumé - basically anything that has to do with writing - this is the place! Appointments are not needed; we handle walk-in visits. We have Instructional Consultants working throughout the day; just ask to visit with one, and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of. Our instructional consultants have Bachelor's Degrees and our peer writing consultants come recommended by Del Mar faculty. All our consultants are highly trained in helping you improve your writing. You can come to us with a few sentences, no sentences, or an entire paper! We’re happy to help you with your writing, but it is YOUR writing. We’ll share lots of tips on grammar and how to write a thesis statement. We’ll help you wherever you are in the writing process.

Can’t make it to our on-campus location? No worries! We offer writing consultations online through Canvas! Use your DMC username and password to enroll. Step one will ask for you information, and step two is where you upload your writing. The usual turnaround for online submissions is 48 hours. Same great service; same great consultants!

That’s the gist, Roxy Fans! We really are so much more, but that’s for another blog. We're pretty awesome. Come see us!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome Back to School!

Hey Roxy fans,
It's okay that summer's over. I'm excited to be back for the fall semester. Time to start writing! One thing I’ve learned from my years of surfing: If you’re waiting for the perfect wave to come along before you jump on your board, you’ll end up dog-paddling the day away! The same lesson is true for writing; if you’re waiting to get started on an essay until the perfect intro or a fabulous thesis pops into your mind, all you will have at the end of the day is a blank page and a mounting sense of frustration.

I know starting an essay can seem really intimidating, but it's best to dive right in.  Just write something. Getting your first idea (even if it’s really rough) down on the page will make it easier to right the next sentence and the next, and before you know it, you have written several paragraphs! 

Having trouble getting started? Don't worry about wiping out on your first try. That’s why it’s called a rough draft! There will be plenty of time later to revise and polish until your writing looks as effortless as a pro surfer. 

Practice makes perfect whether it’s in writing or surfing.  So if you have an essay that you are worried about, I challenge you to put down your board (just for a bit), pick up a pen, and start writing something. (Sometimes, I even start with “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what…and then the ideas come rolling in, and I am off!)

Remember that you are not alone! Everyone is back at the SWC and raring to go. We can help you in any stage of the writing process! Come see us.

Roxy’s tip: Just do it! Start writing, and the ideas will come!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The End of the Semester

Roxy Readers - the Spring 2015 semester has slipped away! Final exams begin today on my campus, and surfing is definitely on the back burner until they're done. No time for a new blog right now, so here's a Throwback Thursday blog. 

Do it Now, Not Later!
Today I have to make choices, and one of the hardest choices I have to make is between surfing and writing. It always seems the waves are best when I need to stay on dry land. The end of the semester is fast approaching, and final papers are due soon. I’m in the trenches with all of you right now as I have a final paper due, too. I won’t tell you the length because it will just shock you. I have to get it done once I’ve finished my blog post. :-) If you put things off like I do, I want to encourage you to stop procrastinating and get on it!

When you find yourself procrastinating, you just have to prioritize. Do you really need to re-watch Parks and Recreation? Is Destiny really more important than your grade? Of course not! Procrastination happens for many reasons, and sometimes we need a little help with our choices. I’ve gathered a list of handy websites, apps, and add-ons that will help you in your ongoing battle against procrastination.

1.       Self Control
This is a program that is only available to Mac users. You tell it how long you want it to block your favorite websites like Facebook, Imgur, Pinterest and anything else that sucks up your time. You can’t even get to these websites if you restart your computer or delete the application! It’s cruel, but it’s for your own good.

2.       Get Cold Turkey
This is basically the same thing as Self Control but for Windows users. The interface uses a humorous-looking turkey and asks you to donate any amount you want ($0-$20) to block websites from your viewing pleasure. It also gives you the option of donating the money to charity.

3.       Productivity Owl
This Chrome extension is really serious about keeping you on track. If it notices that you’ve been spending too much time on frivolous websites, the Productivity Owl flies in and closes your tabs. Of course, you can control what the owl thinks are frivolous websites and regulate how much time you’re allowed to spend on the sites.

All of these programs have one thing in common, you have to want to get things done. Sometimes all we need is that extra push. Push yourself, please; you’ll be happy you did. The end of the semester is so close, and we just need to hang on. Before we know it, we’ll be riding the waves again.

That's it for now, Roxy Fans! This is my last entry until the fall semester. Good luck on your finals! See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Timing is everything…

when catching that perfect wave. With in-class writing, timing may not be everything, but it is super important. Since the end of the semester is now on the horizon, I thought I’d share some tips about writing a timed paper, aka the in-class essay.

Writing a paper can be hard enough when you have two weeks, the entire internet, and all of your notes. Being told to write an essay during class time can seem daunting. Here are some tips on how to tackle that in-class essay.

Do research ahead of time, if possible:
If you get the topics ahead of time, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! Come up with possible outlines for each topic, and make sure you know the basics (names, dates, titles, possible quotes) in order to write the essay. Note: If a teacher is giving you the topics ahead of time, they probably expect a little more from your essay than if you found out the topic that day. Be as prepared as possible! That wave is in sight, so get ready for it.

If you can’t bring notes or don’t know the topics, don’t panic. Prepare as much as you possibly can.

Pace yourself:
Paddling is a big part of surfing, but you don’t want to just sit on your board. You gotta stand up some time to catch a wave. When writing in class, pace yourself. Do not spend too much time on any one part of the essay. It will be better to have a complete essay than one stellar introduction when you’re finished.

Make sure that you leave enough time to revise your essay when you’re finished. It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t, but it will help if you have time to make sure that everything makes sense.

If you have the topics ahead of time or have a good idea of what the topic might be, you can practice writing a timed essay. Still need some help? Come visit us in the Stone Writing Center! We can help you figure out what you need to work on before the big day.

Remember, timing is key. Prepare yourself, and do the best that you can! Hopefully these tips help you feel a bit better about it. 

See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SWC…Let Me Count the Ways

Hey there Roxy Fans! Welcome to the spring semester! I’m glad to be back. If you’re a frequent visitor to the Stone Writing Center, you may think that you’re now so awesome at writing (you’re welcome) that you don’t need us! Remember that even the best writers need help. This is why we’re here. We’re here for those days when you just need another set of eyes to look at your fabulous draft or when you have no idea how to start. That’s our job.

So let’s count the ways that the Stone Writing Center can help you with your upcoming paper:   

1. Sometimes you need confirmation that your ideas are as amazing as you think they are. We can totally help with that.

2. And sometimes you need someone to drag you out of the black hole that you’ve dug for yourself and reassure you that you can be an awesome writer!

3. Have you ever sat down to start a paper and had no idea where to begin? Outlines are great for finding your way, and we can help with those!

4. Formatting can be hard! We can help you figure out which font not to use, among other things. (Don’t listen to Jerry, it doesn’t.)

5. We’re also really good at deciding which word sounds the best in your sentence. (Please just call them eggs, you’re not Tom Haverford.) 

6. And finally, at the end of this messy process that we call writing, we want to remind you to…

We’ll be here when you need to start the process all over again. We can’t wait to help you this semester! Come see us – White Library, 4th floor. See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!