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!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Do it Now, Not Later!

Hello again, Roxy Readers! 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.

This is my last entry until next semester. Gotta finish that paper! 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, November 25, 2014

The More You Read

Hi, again, Roxy Readers. You know, I’ve been surfing for a long time. In fact, I come from a long line of surfers, and I learned a lot by spending time with them. I watched other surfers on the water, I studied the equipment they chose and the routines they used to care for their boards. I spoke with old-timers and beginners like me. I hung out with other surfers, read surfing magazines, scoured Reddit boards, and joined Facebook groups hoping to learn as much as possible about the sport.

I approach writing in the same manner. To become a more effective writer, I not only write as much as I can, but I also read all the time.  I know you’re thinking, “How can reading A Game of Thrones help me with my research paper?” Crazy, right? But it’s true.  The more you read, the more you learn about different styles of writing.   

Even if you’re not writing fiction, reading a novel can help you pick up cool new words and different sentence structures to use. Reading persuasive magazine articles or newspaper editorials can help you fine tune your argumentative essays, and book reviews can aid in your literary analyses. You can also see what doesn’t work so well. 

Lots of my buddies tell me they don’t really read anymore, but most admit that as children they loved a good book! What happened? Children’s books are simple, they have pictures, and they always have a happy ending. Somehow, as we get older, some of us lose our love of reading. The books are longer, they lose their pictures, and they’re not always happy.

As college students, we have to write, and reading helps our writing skills. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to read books, maybe you just haven’t found the right format. Maybe your go-to choice is a magazine, a graphic novel, or online message boards. Just read! Any type of reading counts and helps, especially this blog Roxy fans. ;-)
Roxy’s Tip: If the waves are flat, go read something! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

You Decide!

Hello again, Roxy Readers – I’ve been sitting on the shore, watching the constant motion of the waves rolling in and out. It’s what I like to do before I grab my board and hit the water. Like surfers, writers need to decide what method works best for them. Many students believe that introductions must be written first, then body paragraphs, and finally a conclusion. It took a while before I learned it didn’t have to be that way. Wow! You get to decide where to start.

Everyday students tell me they can’t start writing because they have no idea what their introduction is going to be. I tell them, “That’s okay, because you don’t have to write your introduction first!”

It’s better to get something on the page than to just sit there frustrated, right? Writing my introduction last works for me. Having trouble with the intro? Start with the body paragraphs. Remember, you steer the process. You need to write in whatever way makes sense to you. As long as it’s in the correct order when you finish, you’re good. I promise.

The writing process is creative, and the creative process is messy. It doesn’t have to start out pretty; in fact, it probably won’t. Don’t worry about how it looks when you’re drafting, your teacher just wants to see a polished end product. I hope this helps you in your journey to becoming an amazing writer.

Roxy’s Tip: There is no one “right” way to write. Discover what works for you, and then dive into the writing process wherever you’re comfortable.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! My next entry is coming soon. 'Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Words are Powerful

Words, like killer waves, are powerful.

What we say about ourselves can make a difference in how we feel and even how well we do in our work. I often hear students say, “I’m a bad writer” or “I can’t write!”

When I hear students express such opinions, I ask them, “Do you text? Do you tweet? Do you write songs, poetry, short stories?” When they inevitably say, “Yes,” I then tell them, “Then you write, and you’re a writer!”

What students often mean when they say “I can’t write” is that they do not feel comfortable writing academic essays.  Fair enough. Academic essays are a specialized type of writing with specific requirements and grading criteria.

The good news is—there is help available! The SWC has writing tutors to help with every aspect of the writing process, from helping students understand the assignment requirements, to brainstorming ideas, to revising. We also provide additional resources on our website www.delmar.edu/swc.

Writing, like surfing, takes practice. I did not learn to surf in one day, and I had to ask questions and get advice from more experienced surfers. I've also wiped out more times than I can remember. The same holds true for writing: each time you put your pen to paper or begin typing words on a screen, you are becoming a stronger writer.

Roxy’s tip: Don’t say “I can’t write.” Instead say, “I must practice my writing!” 

Remember, with every essay you complete, you are becoming a more effective writer.

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Start Writing!

Hey Roxy fans,
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 I suggest you 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 because you keep worrying about wiping out on your first try? No problem—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 have been putting off, I challenge you to put down your board (for now), 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 we are always ready at the SWC to help you in any stage of the writing process!

Roxy’s tip: Just do it! Just 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!