The Wrap-Up: Parting Advice from Graduating Specialists

All good things must come to an end, and that’s especially true this year at SJSU. While we are happy so many of our beloved Writing Specialists are graduating, we’ll be sad to see them go!

But, never fear, we asked each of them to offer one final piece of advice for us.

Tim: Preparation of ideas and main themes is key before jumping into a paper. That is to say, proper planning through research and outlining is always a good first step in the right direction!

Sheldon: Probably the best advice I’ve ever received about writing is the one I’m worst at following myself: Stop procrastinating. Set yourself a schedule, and stick to it. Even if you only make tiny steps of progress at a time, do take those steps so the whole assignment doesn’t come crashing down on you at the last minute.

Ines: Writing can be a taxing process; it’s often too easy to feel misdirected, overwhelmed, or lost. The most critical writing-related advice I can give has to do with time: allot yourself plenty of time to plan, execute, and edit your paper. From one procrastinator to another, I understand how improbable that advice may be, so more often than not, I’ve opted to spend more time on the pre-writing/planning stage, jotting down quotes, ideas, connections, and outlining the paper. This ensures that your fingers will go into autopilot mode during the execution phase, eliminating a layer of stress. Taking the paper stage-by-stage instead of all at once is far more palatable.

(Luckily, Ines will be back since she’s going to be a graduate student here at SJSU!)

Sammy: I have worked with many students throughout my time as a tutor for two and a half years. Most of my tutees want to focus on grammar. Although grammar concepts can be tricky, they are definitely possible to learn! Here’s my advice to those of you who struggle with grammar: find a learning method that works best for you. If you’re an auditory learner, listen to YouTube videos of people explaining articles. If you learn best by using acronym mnemonics, remember FANBOYS for the coordinating conjunctions. There are a ton of free resources out there to help you. Take advantage of them (like the Writing Center!).

Jasmine: A challenge many students face is increasing the flow of their writing. A vital part to cohesive writing is tying everything back to the main argument. When editing and revising, I look at how I make connections. Often, I can identify parts in my writing that do not flow well. These portions can usually be remedied by explaining to the reader the relation between the previous and following point. If I find that a point is not related to the other, I see if each relates to the topic sentence. If not, this indicates that one or both belong in a different place in the essay or may not at all.

Saya: Don’t underestimate the power of writing by hand, reading out loud, and editing on hard copies. I’m not sure why, but handwriting helps me get my creative juices flowing, and I’m able to notice my mistakes more when I read my papers aloud and edit/proofread on hard copies. So if you ever encounter writer’s block, try getting away from the computer!

Thanks for the advice!  We’ll miss you!

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