January 2018

Why we need diverse holiday-themed fiction for adults

Two people reading beside each other

It’s December! You know what that means right? The holiday season is right around the corner. From Hanukah to Kwanzaa December is a time for family get-togethers and lots of food. So in the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to look up holiday-themed books (and by holiday-themed, I mean books that have a certain holiday as a key part of the plot) and was very disappointed with what I found. Holiday-themed books appear to be synonymous with Christmas books.

Planning

A man writing the parts of an essay on a board

At the drop-ins, I often have people coming who are in the beginning of the writing process. They have often run into issues when writing, such as running out of ideas, unclear writing, or weak arguments. Their mistake? They simply overlooked one important part of the writing process: planning.

As any writer knows, you need to plan out what you’re writing in order for it to be effective. Planning out your writing allows you to develop stronger arguments and be clearer in presenting them – both of which are essential to writing a successful university-level assignment.

What is rhetoric

Picture of two heads facing opposite directions with colors coming out of their mouths to symbolize communication and ideas.

Have you ever tried to convince your parents to increase your allowance? I have. I remember trying to use whatever method I had to make my parents see my point of view, which caused me to use rhetoric without even being aware of it. Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking or writing, and we use it in one way or another whenever we communicate.

How to manage your time for the sake of sleeping and writing

Naruto sleeping with his head on a table

You may already know that getting your sleep is important for your mental and physical health. But, did you also know that it’s important for writing papers too? Honestly, writing strong papers is hard in general. Now if you’re also not sleeping well enough to even function properly, then writing that strong paper is going to be even harder. The solution? Time management!

Words that changed their meaning

Cartoon man studying a word in a large book

Suppose you were in 16th century England and someone asked you if you wanted to eat meat for dinner. If you were expecting some steak, you might be surprised to receive only some potatoes and vegetables. Back then, meat meant any solid food, not just meat. Quite a considerable distinction from our modern definition!

NaNoWriMo: a writer's marathon

2018 NaNoWriMo banner

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? If the answer is yes, this blog post is definitely for you. If the answer is no, like myself, then not to worry; you can still benefit from this information.

Writing a novel takes a lot of time and dedication, which can be a big deterrent for many people. However, National Novel Writing Month is a good opportunity to finally get that novel started or, if you don’t want to write a novel, improve your writing.

How to get over writer’s block

Red brick wall

Writer’s block – it happens to everyone. It’s probably the hardest thing to overcome for any writer. In an effort to help others with this situation, I have compiled a list of strategies that I use when I’m having a hard time thinking of what to write.  

Write

BEWARE: The elements of Horror

Picture of the word "HORROR" spelt in blood on a wall. On the wall there is also the shadow of someone holding a knife

Horror–you either hate it or love it. I love horror because it gives me an adrenaline rush that I don’t get from other books. So, in the spirit of Halloween, this blog will showcase some of the essential elements that make this literature spooky and will keep you awake at night.

1. Setting

2 reasons why you should read a webcomic

Green angular speech bubble with the word webcomics in it

Have you ever read a webcomic? No? Well, you’re missing out! Webcomics are essentially comics that are posted online. They provide artists with a vast platform to explore their creativity from being interactive like in The Boat to developing reader-creator engagement as seen in a number of host platforms like Webtoons or Tapas. If you’ve never experienced the awesomeness of webcomics, here are two reasons why you should give them a read.

What's going on with the literary world's largest prize?

A Nobel Prize Medal

While there may not be something rotten in the state of Denmark anymore, there is something rotten in the state of the Swedish literary community. Sexual assault controversies have exposed elitist attitudes in the Swedish awarding body of the Nobel Prize in Literature; leading to concerned writing enthusiasts, including myself, calling for reform and change.

Sourcing 101

Multiple books lined up alonside one another. Source:Collectors Club of Chicago.

It is the bane of every undergraduate student when it comes to written assignments: finding good sources. One of the biggest gripes that new students have is how long it takes to find the correct sources for their paper. Especially in the case of evidence-based writing, finding the right sources and using them, more often than not, takes up more time than actually writing the paper itself. Given these challenges, here a few tips on how to help you find and use those quality sources.

  1. Start early

Introducing your Fall 2018 Peer Tutors

Now that the new term has started, our four co-op students have arrived and are ready to help out at drop-ins and appointments!  Learn more about our new co-op students.

Reflecting on the past

pen and paper writing

During these past four months, I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of students through drop-ins at the library as well as during appointments at the Writing and Communication Centre. Among the teaching and communication skills that I have learned through this experience, I am also thankful for the lessons learned. Here are a few:

5 super-foods to keep your brain ticking all day

smoothie bowl

What is a superfood? Is it food that wears a cape and fights crime? Yes and no. Superfoods are foods that are nutrient dense. These foods can help you feel energized throughout the day so that you can be productive and skip on the afternoon chip cravings. Some of them also have the ability to fight diseases!

4 reasons to stop comparing yourself to others

person comparing two apples at the store

We've all done it. Whether it is through social media or in person, we've all internally wished we were someone else or have externally said "You're so lucky!". Although jealousy is a normal emotion it can consume us at times which has a negative impact. If you've caught yourself doing this, here are a couple of reasons to stop.

Best places to study on campus

student walking between book shelves

In the midst of exams, the question of where to go study is a daily decision. If you do decide to leave your living space and head over to the UWaterloo campus, here are some of my favourite study spots on campus!

Improve your writing with three easy revisions

two people working together with laptops

Many students come to the Writing and Communication Centre to see if their writing flows well. Most of the time these students don’t know why, but they feel as though their writing is hard to follow. Here are the top three reasons your work may seem confusing to the reader. 

Affect vs Effect

affect vs effect banner

6 letters, 2 consonants, and a whole lot of confusion. When the moment to use affect/effect comes, it is often followed by uncertainty and confusion. NO MORE I SAY. Here are some easy tips on how to quickly and painlessly decide which of these words to use.

Going green in the workplace

green bike beside a wall

Being environmentally friendly does not have to be a part-time job at home. Many workplaces are now making efforts to create an eco-friendly workplace. By recently joining the Green Office Initiative led by Sustainability, the Writing and Communication Centre has made improvements throughout our office and learned a few things along the way. Here are some easy tips on how to become a greener workplace.

Getting where you need to be

brick wall

"The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." - Randy Pausch

Rappelling down city hall for a good cause

Nadine rapelling

On June 8th 2018, while most people were sitting outside enjoying the weather Nadine Fladd, one of our Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialists, was 326 ft above ground rappelling down Toronto’s city hall.

A new chapter

group picture of the writing and communication center staff

Last week, we celebrated John Vardon who has made a tremendous impact in his 40+ years working as a Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist at the Writing and Communication Centre. As John retires and starts a new adventure in doing so, we look back at his time spent here.

10 ways to recycle your old books

book shelf on a wall surrounded by plants

Books are hard to get rid of because like a vacation or lecture, at some point they either took us on a journey or taught us something. As a result many people end up with a collection of books that they haven’t touched in years. If you do decide to renew your library here are a couple of ideas on how to transform your books into new things or how to pass them on to someone else.

To quote or not to quote

girl with laptop writing in a notebook

Adding quotations to your writing is a great way to incorporate ideas from others to the conversation. The following post discusses the common problem of not knowing when to use quotations.

FYI: quote is a verb and quotation is a noun. Although, the word quote is now commonly used as a noun since language evolves and grows.

How to keep your reader intrigued

old man reading on a park bench

Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, the average person will already have formed a first impression. Now, this could be due to a variety of reasons such as body language, tone or appearance. On the other hand, when it comes to writing, first impressions are formed differently. The first couple of pages give the reader a fairly good idea of whether they would like to continue or not. Here are a couple of tricks to keep the writer engaged.

How to take effective lecture notes

lecture room of university students sitting

While looking out at a first-year university lecture, you may encounter dimly lit faces of hundreds of students typing madly on their laptops, eager to preserve every word uttered by their professor. Now, if you were to walk over to an upper year university course, you may be met by less frantic typing or students who have taken to pencil and paper notes. Over the course of my undergrad, my note taking skills have evolved, and I have learned a few things along the way. Here I will discuss the different methods to take notes during lecture.

My top three writing distractions and how I deal with them

girl studying with laptop and notebook

One of my biggest challenges while writing is to do just that. In a society where we move on from one idea to the next rapidly, such as ten-second snapchat stories or brief tweets about our day, it is easy to lose focus on a task. Although there are a variety of things that can distract me from my work, I have narrowed it down to the top three and how I have dealt with them to increase productivity.

Put it in reverse!

hand drawing an arrow on paper

Sometimes you have to work backwards to move forward. If you ever find yourself stuck while writing (and unable to make it to the Writing and Communication Centre), creating a reverse outline may be your solution. This strategy entails looking at each of your paragraphs and summarizing the main idea you are trying to portray in 1-2 sentences. Even with an initial outline, your ideas change as you write, so this strategy allows you to take a step back and ensure that your writing flows like Niagara Falls.

5 reasons to visit the Writing and Communication Centre

Writing and Communication Centre in a quilt

​​​Writing is a necessary skill no matter your program or academic year. Fortunately, most universities and colleges offer a free resource centre for assistance with improving this skill. If you ever struggle or need a helping hand with academic writing, the Writing and Communication Centre (WCC) is the place to be! If you still aren't convinced, here are five reasons to visit us. 

Introducing Spring 2018's co-op student

Now that the new term has started, our new co-op student has arrived and is ready to help out at drop-ins and appointments!  Learn more about our new co-op student.

Writing genre series: Formal visual art analysis

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

I’ve always had an interest in art, whether I am creating it or viewing someone else’s. Art galleries are my favourite place to explore visual art as I get to experience how another artist creates their work of art and how it relates to their own concept of art. Through high school and my undergraduate studies, Formal Visual Art Analysis has been an important part of my studies in Fine Arts. 

Writing genre series: Poetry analysis

The word poetry is spelled out in colourful letters against an orange backdrop.

In our last two writing genre series blog posts, I offered some tips on Graduate School Applications and Catharina discussed the conventions of Lab Report writing. Her upcoming genre topic will be Visual Arts Analysis and you can check it out on April 16th!

5 Productivity strategies for university students

Student typing on computer with a book open beside her

I always find that the winter term is particularly hard to get through. It’s cold, dreary, has long days, and it never seems like summer is on its way. Being productive during this time is difficult because you just want to curl up in bed and wait for the warm weather to arrive. However, as the exam season approaches, you have to start planning out the best way to study and even think about what you can do to improve your study habits for next term. 

Here are five productivity strategies to help you study!

1. Eliminate Distractions

5 Great reasons to write

Quilt pattern square design, reading "writing and communication centre" in the middle (against a yellow backdrop).

Since September 2017, the Writing and Communication Centre has been providing the space and materials for a quilt composed of student voices. Quilting is a metaphor for the community that we have here, as well as the writing process itself since both involve parts coming together to form a whole.

Some of the thought-provoking prompts suggested by staff include “What are your opinions/frustrations/joys about writing?” “How do you feel about writing today?” and “I like writing because…”

Important & influential female authors: To name only a few!

An blue typewriter sits on a wooden desk. A paper and a cup of coffee are also pictured to the left of the typewriter.

International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8th and the University of Waterloo’s Women Centre will be celebrating International Women’s Week starting March 5th. On Monday the 5th, read Kate’s blog post about books that feature compelling female protagonists!

Tips for a successful term and university career

Colourful post-it notes decorate a cork board. The center post-it says "Make things happen" in capital letters.

University can be overwhelming; here are a few tips to help make things easier for you!

Get Organized

1. Plan ahead

Remember those “syllabuses” that your professors mentioned on the first day of classes? Perhaps you looked at them once or printed them out and they are crumpled at the bottom of your bag… If you haven’t already, dig them up and be sure to get acquainted with your syllabuses! Syllabi? Whatever you choose to call them, they are your maps to a well-organized semester.

Introducing this term's co-op students

Catharina, Kate, and Ariel

Now that the new term has started, our three co-ops have arrived and are ready to help out at drop-ins and appointments!  Learn more about our new co-op students.

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