Rethinking How We Teach Paraphrasing

When you teach a course on writing research, of course you do a lot of work with source handling. I suspect that most of us were taught summary, paraphrase, and quotation as a set, and many of us were given exercises that drilled us to do each of these things with a source on command.Continue reading “Rethinking How We Teach Paraphrasing”

Writing Is Social

We all know the stereotypes of the writer: the introvert with cats hiding away with coffee and alcohol, scribbling away in a notebook (ok, minus the coffee and wine, it’s true for me). “Writing is a lonely profession,” people say. We see it as a soloistic endeavor: the grand aloof maestro spinning mesmerizing tales outContinue reading “Writing Is Social”

Finishing A Dead Draft

Anne Lamott famously gave us the concept of “shitty first drafts” as the key to “good second drafts and terrific third drafts,” and even that seems overly optimistic for many writers—my process for long fiction takes at least four drafts. But if we are being generous with ourselves, as Anne Lamott argues, we embrace theContinue reading “Finishing A Dead Draft”

Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters

Final word count: 52,683 I have often emphasized that writing is not a solo endeavor, but an inherently social activity. In fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to study writing instead of botany: I wanted something a little more social (I was very naive when I made that choice, so please forgiveContinue reading “Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3

Par today is 31,673 words. As of writing this, I’m at 31,865 words. I haven’t written for today yet. So it’s still safe to say I’m doing all right this year. Today i want to ask: Why do you write? Everyone writes for different, often deeply personal reasons. I’ve been thinking about these reasons aContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #2

Today is 20k day. As of writing this, I’m at 20,945 words. I haven’t written for today yet. So it’s safe to say I’m doing all right this year. Today I want to talk about accountability in writing. Accountability is, in fact, part of the magic of NaNoWriMo. Part of the reason that more wordsContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #2”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #1

Novel word count at time of publication: 8,588. As you are probably aware, it’s November. That means, among other things, that it’s time for NaNoWriMo. It’s a familiar rhythm at this point, and I love it. And it’s the rhythm of NaNoWriMo I want to talk about today. Honestly, it’s the only thing that feelsContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #1”

How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers

Almost every fiction writer has heard “kill your darlings” and “show don’t tell.” These pithy sayings get repeated so much that they lose a lot of meaning and they’re frankly a little annoying, because they don’t really help writers know when to kill darlings, or which darlings to kill, or what to show and notContinue reading “How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers”

Whom Do You Write For?

One of the hardest questions that authors get asked perhaps too seldom is “Who are you writing for?” It’s also, perhaps, the most important. More important even than “Why are you writing?” or “What are you writing?” Writing without an audience just doesn’t work. The audience completes the text, you see. Sure, the author mayContinue reading “Whom Do You Write For?”

The Embodied Literature Review: A Classroom Activity

Last week, I introduced my students to the genre of the literature review. This is, for most first year composition students, an entirely alien genre, since it’s largely the province of academic work. However, the course I’m teaching requires, as part of its description, that my students produce an annotated bibliography of 15-20 sources andContinue reading “The Embodied Literature Review: A Classroom Activity”

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