Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to write a paper in 6 weeks: Week 4

1. Writing habits
This week you are to think about your writing habits - focus on the good habits that work for you. Don't worry about what the theory says makes a good writer. If you write well standing on your head on top of your chimney, then continue to write that way. But if you know you do not write well with the television on, then turn it off or move to a room where there is no TV.
  • Take notice of where, when and how you write best. What noise or activities do you like in the background. Do you write better with the radio on? Do you like to write in a study or own the sofa with all the kids about? Do you better early in the morning or later at night? Do you "dump" or do you wait for the muse to strike? Once you recognise a pattern, focus on doing what is "best practice" or most effective for you.
2. How good is your sentence structure and grammar?
Pay attention to how you construct your writing.
  • Turn on the grammar checker when you are writing.
  • Make a note of when you get a green wavy line which indicates you have a problem with your sentence structure or grammar.
  • If you notice you have a particular problem, find out how to fix it eg have a look at one of the numerous grammar guides that you can find on the Internet such as The Guide to Grammar and Writing or the OIL Grammar and Style resource for students.
3. Editing
If you are a person who always goes over the word count, you need to think carefully about how you edit your work without losing the sense of what you are trying to say.
  • Look for little words that can be made into one word.
  • Pay attention to the format the journal uses to publish papers. If it uses two columns, or is an online journal, use short sentences which are easier for the reader to follow - helps the reader to keep her concentration.
  • For more tips on how to edit your writing, have a look at: How to Edit or Proofread an Essay or Paper
If you are working through this writing challenge with more than one person, take a paragraph from your work (no more than 250 words) and swap it around with each other and edit it. Use track changes so you can all see how each other has done the editing. If you are working on your own, try to find a critical friend who will edit your paragraph. And to get practice with editing yourself find a piece of writing on the Internet, maybe a blog post, and edit it.

4. Keep working on the body of your paper
By now you should be half way through writing the body of your paper as outlined in Week 3. Don't forget to embed your references into your paper as you go along - this is a lot less time-consuming than hunting around for appropriate references after you have written your paper.

Image: 'Woody with the editing skillz'


Pam said...

Hi sarah,

I have found now that it is easier to create a table in microsoft word to make a note of all my articles, of the author, subject and the notes I want to extract from it. I then use this table of contents to write from and access which research goes with which information.
I have tried doing it the long way round writing a sentence then trying to search through all my articles to find the appropriate reference this is so painful and too hard a task to do.

Sarah Stewart said...

I am wondering if this would be made easier for you by using something like Endote or even Delicious?