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Writers’ Exchange Blog2019-04-18T17:53:39+00:00

Get Cozy With A Book

While deep in the dissertation process, it can be very helpful to have  “friendly” books nearby that help ignite awareness of "writer within." While some dissertation writers feel they need to quarantine themselves from any [...]

Specific Guidelines for Enhanced Readability

State your purpose explicitly. Make your issue very clear. Make the topic of each section and paragraph visually prominent. Use headings and subheadings appropriately and correctly Place topic sentences in the beginning of paragraphs [...]

Writing For A Reader

One distinction between student writers and professional writers is how the writer regards and relates to the reader. In Composition field, there’s been considerable exploration about “reader-based” vs “writer-based prose.” Here, researchers[1] have identified “writer-based [...]

Does Proofreading Really Matter?

We’ve spent much time talking about editing, and now it’s proofreading time to take the front stage.  We’ve all had the experience of reading a professional text and noticing a typo. The immediate response is [...]

Proofreading Checklist

Proofreading Checklist So many of us focus our writing time on the composing process and forget that the final product deserves a finishing touch. Don't neglect this final polish that all writing requires if it's [...]

Do I Really Have to Ask For Help?

I used to sit in the back of the classroom struggling to comprehend what the teacher wanted from me. Sometimes assignments would be pretty clear to me. Other times, it was as if the teacher [...]

Learning to Listen

I once spoke with a sculptor about how she works. “I get this idea in my head,” she told me. “I’ll start sketching it in my notebooks, trying to imagine what it will look like [...]

Procrastination Nation

I acquired a nasty habit in college: procrastination. However, I’ve started retraining myself not to wait until the last minute to write. I used to say “Oh, I write better under pressure,” except that writing [...]

The Tension with Tenses

I’ve found that when working with ESL students, the most challenging thing for me has been explaining verb tenses. Now, as a bilingual person, I completely understand how confusing English is. That doesn’t mean I [...]

Reading Your Reader

“You need a comma here. Also, what does this sentence mean?” I know unclear comments are just a part of getting feedback, but I still do a double-take when I see them. What were you, [...]

Finding Clarity Despite the Clutter

Like many, I multi-task throughout the day, juggling various responsibilities at the computer. Today, I’m juggling emails, finishing reports, editing texts, and writing this reflection.  If I am not careful, a variety of documents stack [...]

Desperately Seeking Reliable Sources

I often find myself desperately in search of up-to-date sources, combing databases for work relevant to my topic. Looking for sources can be frustrating, as I type in dozens of different combinations of words to [...]

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Rethinking Writer’s Block

“I’m not a writer. I don’t want to become a writer. I just want to finish this document. Could you wordsmith it for me?” I hear this, or something like it, all the time at [...]

Go With the Flow

This past week, heavy rain near my house brought the streams to bank-full and sent frantic torrents of brown water lilting downstream to the river. As I drove to work under dripping trees, over glistening [...]

A Walk in the Desert

Several years ago, I ran across an essay called My Advice on Writing Advice by David James Duncan. At that time, I had been years deep in an extended study of all the how-to writing [...]

Striving for Imperfection

When I was a young writer, I saw the written word as carefully crafted and immaculate. Writing was the transfer of knowledge from the expert to me. To be a writer, I believed I had [...]

Learning to Accept Feedback

When I finish a draft, I want to hear how a reader reacts to my thinking and the way I’ve expressed it. I know from experience that this feedback will help make my next draft [...]

A Recipe for Semi-accuracy

I like to think of punctuation as spice for words—sprinkle in a pinch of commas, add a dash of dashes, and drop in a semicolon or two for flavor. Semicolons, though, can be like the [...]

Anatomy Matters

John McPhee is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who helped reinvent narrative non-fiction. He is also one of my writing heroes and mentors (even if he doesn’t know it.) McPhee has often spoken about one [...]

Trimming the Fat

The best of my writing is marked by a direct, concise style, and yet I confess that it seldom begins that way. In fact, I tend to “overwrite” as I discover what I want to [...]

The Curse of Knowledge

Once I know something, I find it hard to remember what it was like not to know it. As a result, I have a hard time communicating what I’ve learned. I use jargon – specialized [...]

A Tale of Two Sentences

Every good thing I have written has two introductions: one for the reader, and one for myself. The former is my objective, but I inevitably begin first drafts with the latter. These rough beginnings clarify [...]

Give a Good Gift

Recently I came across an article by Stephen Pressfield that reminded me my readers are  “donating [their] time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities."  I owe it to them to give something valuable, whether [...]

Nurturing Creativity

Perhaps one of the most challenging and time-consuming stages of my writing process is finding out what I want to write. Finding an idea—a good idea is essential. I have often tormented myself sitting down [...]

Avoiding Pesky Spelling Errors

I think it's safe to say that writers have one thing in common: we have all misspelled a word or two in our lives. One of the most annoying spelling errors is caused by a simple [...]

Silencing the Monkey

Like many writers, I spend much time researching and preparing to write, and my office is quickly littered with stacks of books, folders, and scribbled pages. What might appear as disorder is actually a reflection of my exploration [...]

Find a Community of Writers

You don't have to write alone! Recently I found myself re-reading Stephen King’s memoir On Writing. While King writes with a delightful irreverence, he offers a very grounded, no-nonsense perspective about writing. As I read [...]

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