Posts for the Topic writing

Some newfound freedom: the shift from high school to university writing

birds flying free from cage

All throughout high school, you have learned countless techniques, rules and tricks for academic writing. In high school, there is predictability, reliability, and structure, which often carries over into the writing process. One of the biggest worries for students entering their first year of university is the transition from high school to university writing. Whether it’s assignments, papers, presentations, reports and the like, writing seems to change in university – or at least the expectations do.

Tips on how to choose an assignment topic

6 crumpled pieces of paper with one lit up like a lightbulb

When a professor announces a new assignment and tells the class that you will all have to pick a topic to write about, you might feel lost and wish they had simply given you a list to choose from. In academic settings, we’re used to structured assignments where we are told what to do, so when it’s left up to us to decide, we will often have questions like:

Succeeding with learning disabilities

Brain surrounded by electricity

In my previous three blog posts, I talked a lot about the benefits of reading and writing, as well as some of the different forms of reading and writing that are often overlooked.  However, I think it is also important to talk about some of the barriers to reading and writing.

"I hate everything I write"

girl sadly looking at her notebook

Most of us, and especially those of us who engage in creative writing, have experienced this thought before. Oftentimes when looking back at something we’ve written, we are either ashamed or embarrassed by the quality of our work. It’s a similar sensation to hearing your voice on a recording; do I really sound like that? Did I really write that? There are countless times where I have written something then later crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. I’m sure many people are familiar with this feeling. But why do we feel it, and what can we do about it?

The art of taking negative feedback

Image of Ned Stark from the TV show "Game of Thrones" which reads: "Brace Yourselves. Constructive Criticism is Coming"

Knowing you did something wrong is tough. Being called out on it can be even harsher. As students, however, feedback is something you often get. While we usually gloss over the positive feedback, when we face negative feedback we can become pretty defensive. And that’s natural. Your writing is something special that you created and thus when you receive criticism, it can seem like an attack on you. However, while some of this criticism can come across as demeaning or confidence shattering, there are usually helpful things to be taken from the notes your marker has left for you.

Building habits to be a better writer pt. 2: write daily

Spongebob struggling to think of something to write

The best way to get better at anything is through lots (and lots) of practice. If you want to improve your writing, write more! Many successful authors advocate daily writing, but how can you get into the habit of writing every day?

● Set goals

Show, don't tell

A picture of a paper octopus coming out of a book, clutching a paper ship

Descriptive writing is what can help an author flesh out the world they are creating in their books and transport readers into fictional spaces. Some authors take a rather flowery approach to this, while others give only the necessary details. Regardless, most of the famous authors adamantly believe in the concept of “showing, not telling”.

Reading and writing as an escape

Old book open with flowers on it

My favourite thing about reading and writing is the ability to get lost into a different world.  Sometimes life can get overwhelming with all the things that we have to do.  It is often hard to set aside time for reading or writing, but it can be really important to do so.  

When I say reading or writing, I don’t mean reading your textbook or writing your school paper.  I mean writing a poem, fiction story, or blog post.  I mean reading that novel you have been meaning to read, or that comic book that your friends keep mentioning.

Building habits to be a better writer: read daily

jake from adventure time reading a book

It’s no coincidence that the best writers we know are also avid readers. When we read, we unconsciously pick up on the vocabulary, phrasing, structure, and flow in what’s being read. When we read lots, we’re essentially learning a wide repertoire of writing techniques which we internalize and later use in our own writing. So, an obvious logical step towards improving one’s writing is simply to read more.

Oxford commas: what’s the whole fuss about?

The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is one of those writing conventions in English that people either love or hate. If you were one of the lucky few in high school to have an English teacher who was particularly passionate about the subject, then you probably know what I’m talking about. The most important thing to know about the Oxford comma is that it isn’t a clear cut grammar rule. In other words, it is what one could call “optional punctuation”.

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