A Modest Proposal: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Conference Proposals

By Reece Gibb

Writing a conference proposal for the first time can be intimidating—especially if you’ve never been in a conference environment before. So many questions come to mind: how do I choose a topic? What form does a conference proposal take? Who is the audience of my proposal?

When you’re considering a topic to choose for a conference, think of both the conference theme and the related audience. Think of a conference as a family dinner. You head home to find a colorful array of relatives mingling with your family: among them the outspoken uncle, the oddball nephew, and your crazed aunt. When dinner is served, conversations start on all sides of the table. A few cousins discuss your aunt’s car accident, while your grandparents argue over whether your uncle should have married a younger woman. Which conversation you chime in on has to do with which subject you feel you have the most contribute to. You may know more about one particular development in the family, but every discussion centers around what’s happening in the family.

In much the same way, a conference is often set around a subject or set of subjects. Like your family dinner, you are heading into different conversations happening at once, so you want to pick a topic that you feel you have a firm grasp on or interest in. When you’ve decided on your topic, look at the conference’s call for proposals (CFP). A CFP is a short prompt that details the conference’s formatting requirements for the proposal, the conference’s theme, and sometimes the “ideal” attendee. Be sure to write down a few of the defining terms and keywords used in the CFP so you can incorporate them into your proposal. The CFP may also ask you to specify which panel or session you are applying to, so make sure your topic adheres to the topic of a specific session.

Once you’ve gotten a feeling for the expectations and language of the conference, ask yourself what you want to contribute to the discussion. In the proposal itself, you want to indicate where exactly your topic factors into an academic conversation. At the beginning of your proposal, you want to introduce “a key source or scholar, or situating your work in line of inquiry or major debate in your field of study”(Sano-Franchini, 2011). More broadly, does your paper, research, study, etc., “challenge, extend, or complicate existing work in your field?” (Sano-Franchini, 2011). Aside from just introducing the essential components of your research, you are stating in your conference proposal how exactly you are contributing to or changing your field of study.

Finally, before you submit your proposal to a conference, it would probably be a good idea to have an advisor look over your proposal. Consulting with someone familiar with your topic who has been admitted to and involved in conferences before can be beneficial, especially as you work through the kinks of writing a proposal for the first time. With these strategies, you can rest easy knowing that you can make the case for why your research deserves to be heard in the “family dinner” of academia.


Sano-Franchini, J.  (2011). Writing the academic conference proposal. GradHacker. Retrieved from http://www.gradhacker.org/2011/06/01/writing-the-academic-conference-proposal/

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Constructing a Rogerian Argument

By Chase Fayeghi

Picture this: two people, each with opposing views, have been duking it out for some time. The battlefield is littered with logical fallacies, bullets of insults are shot back and forth piercing each opponent, and, in the end, only feelings get hurt with no progress made on the issue. This is often what debates and arguments look like, especially to outsiders.

Debates and arguments don’t have to be like this, though. There is a way to establish your point without causing World War III. Instead, you can utilize a Rogerian argument. A Rogerian argument depends on the writer (and subsequently the reader) being willing to find a middle ground on an issue (Kiefer, n.d.).

The introduction is critical to a Rogerian argument as this is where the writer introduces the problem to the reader (Kiefer, n.d.; Moxley, n.d.). The difference between a traditional argument and a Rogerian argument is that instead of stating the writer’s viewpoint (that would then demand agreement from the reader), the writer instead describes how the issue at hand affects both sides. The length of the introduction shouldn’t be too long relative to the rest of the paper; the overarching goal is to illustrate immediately that the writer is a mediator rather than as a biased party.

The next step is potentially the most difficult part of constructing a Rogerian argument. The writer must put themselves in the opposition’s viewpoint and understand the logic behind it. The writer must present the opposition’s viewpoint in as neutral language as possible (by avoiding stereotypes and biased language, for example). In other words, language that is intended to elicit a certain feeling or reaction rather than simply presenting the facts of the opposition is avoided.

Some writers may take this as an opportunity to manipulate or invalidate the reader’s argument; however, this would prove to be ineffective since the reader may detect this attempt and consider the writer as a threat to their viewpoint. It is important to remember that if the reader—at any time throughout the argument—considers the writer to be an instigator rather than a mediator, then the credibility of the writer and the argument will be diminished. Ultimately, this section of the argument is crucial because if either of the above conditions are not met, then the reader might not be willing to accept compromise in the later sections of the argument.

The hope is that by the third section of the argument, the reader is still, you know, reading the text, but also that the reader is in a position to negotiate compromise. The third section of Rogerian argument structure allows the writer, again in as neutral language as possible, to describe and ultimately convince the reader of the writer’s viewpoint . This can be done by presenting factual information (i.e., the writer should use data and scientific observation, not others’ analyses). When describing the writer’s viewpoint, the purpose is not to discredit the other side but to make the writer’s viewpoint appear valid.

Finally, the conclusion of a Rogerian argument should show the reader how the facts and points presented above would benefit both parties and how compromise or alternative solutions could solve the problem. A Rogerian argument structure is most beneficial when dealing with a topic that is sensitive or controversial (Moxley, n.d.). The essence of this structure focuses on the writer presenting the issue at hand neutrally and explaining how both sides of the argument are affected by the problem. This is a stark departure from a “traditional” argument in which the writer would ask the reader to abandon their interests and adopt the writer’s viewpoint.


Kiefer, K. (n.d.). What is a  Rogerian argument? Writing@CSU. Retrieved from https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co300man/com5e1.cfm.

Moxley, J. (n.d.). Rogerian argument. Writing Commons. Retrieved from http://writingcommons.org/open-text/genres/academic-writing/arguments/318-rogerian-argument.

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Adaptation within Academia

By Iris Saltus

As students (and as individuals in general), we have to be able to adapt. We must be able to change our study habits when we move from high school into college. We must be able to change our mindset when we go from our 9:00 chemistry lecture to our 10:00 Core Humanities class. We must be able to adjust how we think when we start taking upper level classes or when we start planning and writing a dissertation.

Sometimes these changes aren’t easy, but adapting as a student often requires trying new things and accepting that some of those things might not work out. Halfway through the semester, you might realize that taking notes using the Cornell Method is just too confusing (and you never look at your notes again, anyway). Maybe you’ve tried doing your homework first thing in the morning instead of at 10 at night, but now you really need that sleep time. Perhaps you’ve tried backward planning but can’t stick to that schedule. Forcing yourself to set aside an extra hour each day to stay on top of your differential equations homework can be miserable; convincing yourself to spend an hour each day reading for your literature seminar class can be arduous. Still, we all manage to pull through—some a little less scathed than others.

Don’t be discouraged, though! It’s okay to change up your schedule (if you can) or abandon ineffective strategies that you’re trying to use to get through your course work. The University Writing Center blog itself must be able to adapt as well, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re changing up our schedule! Instead of publishing three new blog posts each week, we’ll be posting one new blog every Tuesday. We will continue to post a “throwback Thursday” blog taken from our archives on our Facebook and Twitter pages every Thursday.

So, don’t be afraid of those changing due dates or terrifying new citation styles. Try something new, change your way of thinking, and find a way to adapt!

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A “Word” on Creating a Table of Contents

By Jacob Trujillo

A table of contents establishes a simple way of maneuvering through a document that contains several sets of information. It allows the reader to access specific content areas in a document by setting a list of those specific content areas, along with their page number, at the beginning of the document. There are two ways that you can go about creating a table of contents in Microsoft Word: manually and automatically.

Manually creating a table of contents is useful for documents that won’t need to be updated.  By constructing a table of contents manually, you begin by clicking the area of the document where you’d like to insert the table. Then, on the Document Elements tab, under Table of Contents, click the Insert tab and choose a template under Manual Table of Contents:

For example, by clicking on the Classic template, it will appear on the document like so:From this point, you can modify the text formatting (e.g., font, font size, accentuation, etc.) and begin to manually insert every individual entry into the table, along with its respective page number. You’re able to add more levels to the table by copying an existing entry and pasting it wherever you choose, or you can remove levels depending on how many entries you need. If you need to update the table, you have to manually adjust each entry and its page number in accordance with the updated document, which can become time consuming.

For more intricate tables of contents that may require frequent revising, Microsoft Word provides automatic tables that you can efficiently modify and update with (ideally) little hassle. Creating an automatic table of contents begins with selecting proper heading styles. As you draft your document, categorize specific content areas with level headings. Under the Styles tab, you can choose level headings to label your document:

Style Heading 1 can be used to break up the document into general categories of information. If you need to split a general category into subcategories, you can use level headings 2 and 3 to identify specific content areas in a category. When you’ve completed the current document with all of your selected level headings in place, you’re ready to insert the automatic table of contents. Like inserting a manual table of contents, you choose the area of the document where you’d like to place the table, click the Document Elements tab, and under Table of Contents, insert your preferred Automatic Table of Contents template. For example, a Core Humanities 202 compare and contrast essay could be categorized like so:

Updating an automatic table of contents is simple: once you’re finished with modifying the document, click on the table, and on the tab that appears at the top, click Update Table. You have the option of specifically updating page numbers, or you can update the entire table. Remember that if you make manual changes to an automatic table of contents, those changes will be erased when the table updates.While you may not need to use a table of contents for your normal, everyday research papers, they are very useful for theses, dissertations, and other large documents. And there you have it, constructing, inserting, and updating a table of contents, manually and automatically.

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Strategies for Effective Note-Taking

By Zoey Rosen

“TAKE NOTES.” These chilling instructions from a professor can take your anxiety levels for a class from zero to off the charts. Taking notes in an important aspect of attending a lecture. The act of writing down the information will help you internalize it and also gives you a piece of the lecture to take home and review at another time. However, there’s only one problem with notes. Did anyone teach us exactly how to take them?

Taking notes effectively is only possible if you find the method that’s right for you. Taking notes with your professor’s preferred method does not guarantee that you will retain the information. Learning to take notes can take time and energy, but the outcome will be worth it. Below are some examples of notetaking strategies that you may want to try out and incorporate into your lecture routine.

  1. Cornell Method

Divide your paper into three parts: main ideas, keywords, and summary. Under ideas, you’ll fill in information that is important during a lecture. Under keywords, you’ll put the major terms or takeaways from that page of your notes. The summary section will provide you room to put down the main point of that section of your notes for when you go back and review the page.

  1. Split-Page Method

In this method, your page will be divided into two sections—one for primary ideas and one for secondary. This lets you prioritize your information in an organized manner so it is easier to see what the major points are when you study.

  1. Make a Mind Map

A good method for those who learn better with pictures and diagrams, a mind map will help you organize the ideas from the lecture in a visual representation. Taking this map further, if you separate your clusters by color, you have an additional level of organization that helps keep the ideas clear.

  1. Make your own code

Lectures can go by really fast, and you may not be able to write down every word the professor says. Making up your own abbreviations and symbols will make the physical writing process go faster. Plus, when you go home and translate what you wrote, your symbols will get you to think a little deeper about the concepts—more opportunities for learning!

  1. The Outline Method

This system of note-taking has you organizing the main points of a paper using indents. The main idea will be written next to the left-hand side of the page with supplemental information under it and indented. The more specific information that gets added, the more levels your notes will have.

  1. The Chart Method

Especially useful for history courses, setting up a chart with columns that are relevant to your class can show the relationship between and importance of subjects introduced during lectures. Adding to a chart over the course of a semester will leave you with a comprehensive list of important information that can come in handy for finals.

While these are good strategies, there could always be another method that works better for you. Try out all the styles and see what helps the information stick. Your notes may turn out to be the best you’ve ever taken.

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Using a Style Guide Instead of a Website

By Adriana Santana

Picture this. You have one hour before your rhetorical analysis of Machiavelli’s The Prince is due. Your professor asks that you use direct quotations to support your original argument. Just as you’re preparing your reference page, the internet goes down, and you have no access to OWL Purdue or BibMe. Not only do you have no idea how to properly format your APA citations, but you also are unsure of whether “effect” or “affect” is grammatically correct in the sentence you’re constructing. It’s a college student’s worst nightmare, but it’s one that can be avoided.

The prospect of formal citation and correct grammar in academic papers can be daunting and overwhelming to any student. Our years in high school, where we dabbled some in MLA and basic grammar rules, did very little to prepare any of us for the day we would be thrust headfirst into a research paper that demanded precise citation and syntax. Not only is proper citation difficult, but all the AP English classes in the world could not prepare us for all the nuances and quirks of correct grammar in the English language. We can find ourselves lost and staring in frustration at the little green squiggle of doom in our Microsoft Word document; however, we are not all doomed to wander aimlessly and blindly around the confusing and winding landscape that is academic writing. There is hope out there. And in this case, hope takes form in grammar and style guides. Here are three common questions about style guides and some answers to give you some guidance.

  1. Why should I use a style guide and not a website?

Sure, it is a lot easier to hop on Google and look up the answers to our grammatical and formatting questions and concerns. But, what is easy is not always best. When reading about citation or grammar rules online, students are far less likely to comprehend and absorb the information versus reading the same information on printed pages (Crum, 2015; Ferro, 2015). This is because students often feel less connected with digital texts than they do with physical texts. Using a physical guide instead of a website also helps cut down on the distractions so often found on the internet and can help you remain productive and focused on the academic task at hand. Finally, sticking to the updated, official citation and grammar guides allows for your work to be more accurate. The formal MLA and APA guides are much more credible and reliable than going to a third-party citation website.

  1. How do I figure out which style guide to use?

Once you’ve decided to take the bold and courageous step to use a physical style guide, the next question becomes how to find the figurative needle in a confusing and voluminous haystack. The first thing you need to do is narrow down your search to find out exactly what you need to know. A style guide on sentence variety might not be helpful if you’re concerned about semicolon usage, so narrowing your search down will help ease your search and lower your stress levels. After you decide on what aspect of academic writing you want to focus on, it’s important to stick with credible guides. If what you need is a guide on APA formatting, then make sure to use the book published by the American Psychological Association. Other physical guides on APA formatting and citation may be easier to read and smaller than the official guide, but they may also be inaccurate or skip over needed information. Lastly, after obtaining an official style guide, it is vital to ensure that the guide you have is the most recent and updated edition. This is easier than it sounds: just flip to the publishing information on the first couple of pages of the book. There will always be a publishing year, so just check and ensure you have the guide with the most recent publishing year. Grammar, citation, and formatting rules are very fluid and malleable, so it is always better to double check that you have the latest printing.

  1. How do I use my style guide?

Now that you have your updated and official grammar/style guide, the final hurdle before the finish line of academic success is figuring out how to use it properly. First off, you’ll quickly find out that the table of contents is confusing and should be avoided to prevent headaches. Stick to using the index in the back of the guide, it will be much easier to find exactly what you’re looking for based on key words. If you own the book, it’s also great to mark it up with annotations, highlights, and notes to help deepen your understanding and enhance your learning of the complex material. If you find yourself citing the same thing often, make a bookmark for the page you so often turn to make your search process a lot quicker. If you don’t own the book, keep some scrap paper nearby to make any notes that will be helpful to you. All guides are full of examples, so use them to learn the material, and feel free to go ahead and practice the grammar/citation rules on your own.

Finally, if you still end up with citation questions or can’t get the hang of a style guide, come visit the University Writing Center! We have a number of citation guides available in our writing lab, and all of us consultants are happy to help you with your grammar and citation questions.



Crum, M. (2015). Sorry, EBooks These 9 Studies Show Why Print is Better. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/print-ebooks-studies_n_6762674.html

Ferro, S. (2015). 5 Reasons Physical Books Might Be Better Than E-Books. Mental Floss. Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/69380/5-reasons-physical-books-might-be-better-e-books


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How to Choose a UWC Writing Consultant

By Pamela Hong

It’s Friday night, so you call your best friend and plan a night out downtown at the Eldorado Casino. You and your best friend spend some time catching up, laughing, and overall having a great night. You’re having a great time together, so you decide to play some roulette. You bet all your chips on RED 13 since your best friend suggested you do so. The dealer spins the wheel, and the ball lands on RED 13! You just won $100,000!

You realize your best friend was a major factor in your win. You chose to go out with your best friend because you both have a lot in common and you both work well together. This same kind of connection should be sought out when you are making an appointment at the Writing Center.

The consultant you choose should be compatible with what you want to achieve during the session. While all of our consultants are well-trained and equipped with resources to help you in all aspects and styles of writing, working with a consultant who has taken your classes or has felt your pain doing the very same assignments you’re working on creates a more comfortable and authentic collaboration.

Here’s how:

  1. Read the bios on the University Writing Center website (unr.edu/writing-center/meet-our-consultants)
    Every consultant has a short description of their standing, major(s) and minor(s), strengths in writing, and casual facts about what they do in their daily lives. Quickly skimming these blurbs, while looking at the availability that works for you on the appointment website (www.unr.mywconline.com), can help you decide which person you may be most successful working with. You can also search through consultant bios for someone who shares your major or hobbies.
  1. Use the UWC online’s scheduling system
    The Writing Center offers several schedules every semester to help accommodate your writing goals. We offer a number of different schedules, including ones for  graduate students and students in online core writing classes. Just go to the website to create an appointment and explore the drop-down menu of schedules to see if there are consultants specialized just for you.HERE’S A TIP: You can also see a consultants’ bio when you click on an available time slot to make an appointment on the “unr.mywconline.com” website.
  1. Ask our staff
    If you stop by to make an appointment in person, ask the front desk who they think you could benefit from working with the most. We know our peers’ strengths better than they may know themselves, so we can help you find your perfect match.
    Also, if you’re in an appointment already, ask your consultant who they suggest you should go to! Now that they’ve seen your writing objectives and know you a little bit better, they can give you specific suggestion as to who would help you best in a consultation for the next time you come in.
  1. If all else fails, any one of us can help you
    Again, we are all trained to accommodate any writer from all different types of majors. While having a Nursing major help you in CHS 211 would be ideal, any of our wonderful consultants can assist you thoroughly and fully.
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Negotiating Contracts as a Freelancer

By Edwin Tran

To many, freelancing is a dream with so many perks and benefits that it is unfathomable to think anything negative about it. Being a freelance writer means setting your own schedules, your own hours, your own pace, and a thousand other things that you specifically control. However, that also means it is only up to you to decide the more fundamental and basic things. Only you can decide how many contracts you take, which means only you can decide how much money you make, which means only you are responsible for whether or not you will be able to eat at the end of the week. The most crucial aspect in order to survive, whether doing freelance writing for side money or as a career, is to negotiate your contracts carefully.

The first question is where one might find some of these contracts. The age of the internet has led to an unprecedented rise in easy-to-access work. Many websites act as marketplaces for writers and employers. Some of these include Upwork, Toptal, Elance, and Freelancer.com. With this vast network of markets, it seems that there should be plenty of work around. However, obtaining work is much more difficult than it appears. Writing has simultaneously become one of the hardest and easiest areas to break into because of the high volume of writers and writing jobs. In other words, freelance writing has become an incredibly competitive battlefield.

Before moving forward, let us examine the average monetary rate of a freelance writer and what one should expect when negotiating contracts. Consider this list of freelance rates provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association (source: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php):

These rates are also consistent with those provided by WritersMarket, who identify seemingly exorbitant charges of $80/hour for certain types of copywriting and $70/hour for certain types of ghostwriting. Keep in mind that these are average rates, and it must be noted that the influx of online markets has created an entirely different situation for those just starting out. Many new writers are often abused for free work or are paid marginally. It is important to realize that while they may not be able to secure jobs with the rates presented above, freelancers should not have to deal with sub-par pay.

The question that emerges is how. The first step towards finding adequate work is to search through various websites (such as those mentioned above) to find jobs that seem engaging and appropriate for one’s skill level. In this early stage, it is important to build up a portfolio of projects and, for certain sites, to establish a high rating as a freelancer. As a result, finding the perfect job to highlight strengths is key. Once you have found a job that you believe to be perfect for your skills, the true negotiation begins. Many jobs will require a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this specific job and, more importantly, what skills and unique assets you would bring if accepted. Even if a cover letter is not required as per the directions of the job offer, you should attach one anyway. Your cover letter should be both professional and specific to the individual job. Many employers go through dozens of offers a day and finding a cover letter that specifically addresses some aspect of the job will go miles beyond cover letters that appear generic. Let us look at an example:

An appropriate and effective cover letter will take you a long way. It identifies that you have read the job description thoroughly and are actually interested in the work at hand. It might take a few applications, but it will eventually culminate in an offer letter.

Here is where contract negotiations begin. Sometimes, employers will provide a budget or an estimated amount of money an individual wishes to use, which writers will base negotiations off of. On some platforms, mainly Upwork, there may also be a bidding process, where freelancers will offer their own rate and the employer decides among those who applied for the job based off these rates. It is almost certain that new freelancers will be facing rather sparse payouts. Again, you want to focus on creating a solid portfolio and a high rating. During negotiations, aim for higher than minimum wage, but a lack of experience will be a major factor against getting higher payouts. Always negotiate these contracts with courtesy and be sure to work within the budgetary confinements of a potential employer. Be clear in highlighting your skills and experience in writing in order to establish a sense of legitimacy that can come into play when trying to aim for a slightly higher payout.

Ultimately, freelancing requires individuals to identify what they feel is appropriate compensation for their work. This is typically divided into hours, and it is important to ask oneself if the pay he or she receives is adequate for the work done in an hour. While the early period may be a difficult time and might have rather minimal payments, it is an important part in establishing oneself as a skilled writer. As more jobs come under your belt and your ratings go up, the higher the potential for bigger cuts. The same negotiation skills apply from job to job, the only difference is the baggage you come with. Each amount of experience adds an amount to your worth—always be sure to keep this in mind when freelancing. You are worth more than slave labor!

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Confusing, Complicated, Curious Words We All Mix-Up Sometimes: Part 3

By Ash Thoms

Let’s hope that this blog post lets you use some confusing words correctly.

“Let’s” is the contraction, or shortened form, of let us. Let’s go to class; we don’t want to be late (punctuality is cool)! “Lets” is the third-person present form of the verb “to let,” which means to not prevent or forbid. My roommate lets me eat her macaroni and cheese for dinner when she makes it (what an awesome roommate).

I hope as I flesh out these concepts that I also flush out your confusion surrounding some commonly misused words.

“Flesh out” means to add substance to something or make it fuller. I am in the process of fleshing out the plan for this weekend; I’ll let you know when the route for the road trip is set! “Flush out” is to cause something to leave its hiding place. I need to flush out the toxins in my body, so I’m going to do a juice cleanse (FYI: juice cleanses are not worth it, friends).

Maybe you need a break from this post? Maybe you feel as though I should pump the brakes and stop discussing all these confusing words? Lucky for you, we’re only half way through!

“Break,” as used above, is a noun meaning a pause in an activity. I need a break from this semester, despite it not even being half way over (true). “Break” can also be used as a verb, meaning to separate or cause to separate. As it turns out, I can break a metal ruler in half (not true). “Brake” is a device for slowing a moving vehicle. Could you PLEASE use your brakes? The way you drive is terrifying.

The goal of this blog post is to diffuse information among everyone who reads it. However, I hope it also defuses the tension that so many of us feel when thinking about these words.

“Diffuse” is a verb meaning to spread out over a large area or cause to spread widely among a group of people. When you cough, your germs diffuse widely throughout the area in which you are located. “Defuse” means to reduce the danger or tension in something. I had to defuse the tension between my roommate and my sister by doing the dirty dishes.

The end of this blog post is in sight! If you hold on for just a few more words, you’ll be able to exit this site and go back to your day-to-day life. Thankfully, there are no sources to cite at the end of this post, so we’ll be through even faster.

“Sight” means the power of seeing or a thing that can be seen. I saw the sun today after weeks of rain, and what a beautiful sight (it’s raining as I type this)! “Site” is either a website or an area of ground on which something of importance is built. The University Writing Center’s site is a magical piece of the internet. The ground-breaking ceremony for the construction site is later today! “Cite” means to quote something as justification of an argument. Everyone must cite their sources in academic writing (both a fact and an example).

Altogether, we’ve looked at quite the number of confusing words so far! Let’s all together take a deep breath and learn how to use one more pair of words.

“Altogether” means completely, totally, or taken as a whole. Altogether, it’s been a pretty decent week! “All together” means all in one place or group or all at once.  The crowd started running away from stadium all together, celebrating the victory.

Now it’s time to take a break from your computer and take in the sight of whatever is around you. Hopefully the confusion has been flushed out of your brain, the fear of using these words has been defused, and you are able to go forth and conquer your writing goals!

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External Strategies to Improve Writing

By Zoey Rosen

Whether you love writing, hate it, or fall somewhere in between, the task of writing can sometimes feel like an insurmountable chore. There have been times where I was so into the paper I was writing that the hours clicked away, and it wasn’t until it was dark outside that I realized that so much time had passed. Later that same week, I had logged 7 long hours into another assignment and was still on the first page. While we cannot always choose what and when to write, there are ways we can make writing less awful.

  1. Find some music that will not distract you but will, instead, help you gear up for the task ahead.
    • Music is a proven mood-booster. Playing something that helps you focus or makes you feel more creative could help you get over that initial mental block that comes with starting an assignment.
  2. Light a good smelling candle reserved for writing.
    • Sense memory is a powerful tool to utilize with writing. You may begin to associate the familiar scent with writing, which could get you into the mood of writing faster and more efficiently. Plus, candles smell awesome, so everyone wins.
  3. Schedule rewards into your writing process.
    • Sometimes the only motivation you need is knowing that you have a good snack coming after this paragraph. A few gummy bears or apple slices can give you short-term or long-term energy that will ultimately help keep you writing.
  4. Take a break!
    • Writing is arduous when you make it so! Get up, stretch out, and shift your focus to something new for a few minutes. You might get the idea that connects your entire paper together when you’re simply outside for a few breaths of fresh air.
  5. Talk with others about what you’re writing.
    • In every major, your classmates and friends will have to write. Even if they are writing a different paper, it will help to discuss your ideas together. Talking through your plan will help you see what steps you have left and acknowledge all that you’ve already completed. Your friends could also ask some questions you had not considered and help bring some clarity to the end product. You might just do the same for them too!

You can make the most out of writing, even when it isn’t the first thing you want to do. Being aware of your writing process is extremely beneficial and can tell you what methods work to overcome writer’s block. Good luck, and happy writing!

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