When I was on a plane, heading to the Bahamas, I got a random idea about comparing writing a paper and flying planes.

Starting a paper is just like trying to take off in a plane. Sometimes the takeoff is quick and smooth, while other times you are sitting and waiting. Sometimes it is hard to begin writing a paper, because narrowing your focus can take a bit of brain storming.

Once you complete the introduction, you are in the longest portion of the paper, which are the body paragraphs. The body paragraphs can be compared to the flight when cruising altitude has been reached. This comparison can be made because most of the flight is very calm, but there may be some unexpected writing blocks. Airplanes experience the same idea when the plane goes through turbulence. The turbulence the plane experience can be compared with the loss of focus in the body paragraphs, which causes for issues with the flow and coherence of the paper.

Ending a paper is just like landing a plane, because you have to get it just right. Have you ever been on a plane and the pilot lands too soon? The right is bumpy and you are trying to hold on tight. Well, if you end your paper too soon or have a poor conclusion, your reader can experience the same bumpy effects when reading. When writing your conclusion, you want to gently bring the reader to a nice gradually stop by restating your main points along with making those points connect back together.

So the next time you are writing a paper, keep an eye out for any off topic or loss of focus points in your paper. Remember you want your paper to be like a plane ride, smooth with easy transitions.

Some Sessions Can be Short and Sweet

My session at the Writing Center was short and sweet. I asked for help looking at a final draft of a cover letter for a job I am applying for. I came in a couple minutes early and found my consultant reading some information on cover letters, which I found very comforting. I knew that my tutor might not know much about the genre of writing I was bringing her, so I was glad to see that she cared enough to do some research in order to help me. When I sat down she greeted me in a genuine manner and made sure that I was signed in. She then began to ask me questions about the cover letter. What was it for? Was I applying for a job? What did I want her to do to help me? She asked me to read my letter, and as I did, she took notes about things I was doing well and places that weren’t necessarily clear. When I was done reading I asked her advice about a couple of spots, and we made changes. Then she praised the things that I did well and recommended some changes I could make. Not only did she mention the spots that needed work, but she partnered with me to come to a correction. Together we working through all the problem places to tidy up my letter.

My session with my consultant made me feel much more confident about the work that I was doing. Not only did it make me feel better about writing a cover letter, but it reassured me that I was doing everything I could to obtain a position that I really wanted. This was the power of the writing center at its finest. It helped me to take a step that could change the rest of my life. I also really enjoyed the way my consultant used an equal dose of praise and suggestion in our session. It reminded me that while I have worked very hard on this letter and did a lot of things well, there are always areas where I can improve.

Since I’m a senior Education major, I know that I need to take what I have learned and use it in my future classroom. Students learn so much about how to write, but not always why it is important to write. It is important for me as a future teacher to give instruction on how to write professionally and explain skills that will help them to obtain future careers. Once they know how writing can affect their future lives, they will become better writers in the end. I also want to give my students the understanding that all writing can be improved. There is never a draft, whether it be the first or last, that is completely perfect. It was important for me to seek help from many different sources instead of seeing one and thinking my work was complete. I will encourage my students to continuously work and revise their writing in hopes that it will always become better.

The Right Time to Write

Have you ever sat down to begin your paper and felt like it just wasn’t quite the right time to begin/continue/finish writing it? If you haven’t, I applaud your ability to just sit down and write. You just might be a writing superhuman. If you have, I’m right there with you.

How many times in our own lives have we put off doing things because it just wasn’t the right time? We don’t chase our dreams because it’s not the right time, we say we’ll do it when we have more money/no kids to take care of/the courage to explore. This is similar to writing.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there will never be a right time for anything. But does this mean we should hold off on doing the things we need to do? Absolutely not.  You can’t wait around for it to be the right time, you just got to do it. So maybe it’s a Tuesday night and you have a history paper due on Thursday. A billion things probably sound better than sitting down and writing that paper (Netflix, Twitter, looking up cute dogs to adopt). There’s no guarantee that Wednesday will be the right time to write this paper either.

So I urge you to go to your favorite place to write whether that be your dorm room, the local library, your kitchen table, or in a lawn chair on top of your favorite hill. Gather some snacks (be careful with the Cheetos though, they tend to cause mysterious, dusty orange fingertips) and some water. And with your laptop or pencil and paper in tow, go make it the time to write.

Kathleen Finan