Thinking and Making

Here are a few general notes of advice for writers that may prove useful to you as we move into individual conferences and in-class writing workshops:

Context
Write in a recognizable intellectual context (disciplinary, critical, historical, theoretical)

Write for a real person, someone who is engaged in the subject and interested in what you have to say (be honest, be genuine)

Purpose
Write beyond the assignment: challenge yourself, use the essay to improve as a writer

Be motivated (you should have a reason why you are doing one thing and not another)

Articulate your main idea, purpose, argument, claim (the main idea should be clear and distinct)

Be confident. Write with courage, conviction, originality (say “it is” rather “it seems”)

Embrace complexity (go beyond first thoughts, commonplaces and clichés, don’t reduce complexity)

Writing with Sources
Make connections: embed your discussion in other intellectual contexts and make use of intertextual thinking. Follow writers to their sources, read those sources, and use those sources to think with the writer

Build Credibility/Authority (primary and secondary, quoted in vs. quoted from)

Use appropriate/Relevant Evidence (evidence chosen that makes you more persuasive)

Set up (lead in to suggest how to read) and follow up (discuss/analyze fully each quotation)

Design
Use organization and structure thoughtfully (sections, paragraphs)

Be logical (your sequence of thoughts, what Steven Pinker calls “arcs of coherence”)

Build sentences and work on your repertoire of sentence structures (use of phrases, apposition, semi-colons and dashes, etc.)

Precision and Presentation
Focus (idea), not generalizing, be specific, choose words, clarity (cut irrelevant words/sentences)

Be professional (if your writing is careless you will not be taken seriously)

Document (consistently and accurately, if you have a question ask the professor)

Control grammar, spelling, punctuation (learn your problems and solve them, never make the same mistake twice)

Write with fluency, grace, style (read aloud, leave time in process to work on sentences)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s