By JAY LONG|
It is a dark and stormy night, the house is empty, and all the lights are off save a brilliant ray of white light. The white radiance malevolently stings the eyes, but a fell force compels the word-seeker to resist the overwhelming urge to hiss and desperately scrabble for solace under a mountain of blankets. The dark compulsion skitters up the word-seeker’s spine and shrieks unceasingly into grey matter. Oppressive and suffocating, the ever-present force grasps greedily at the word-seeker’s heart, sending shots of cold lightning into able but unresponsive limbs. Like a malign shadow rushing gleefully to glut itself on a succulent soul, the foretold essay due date arrives sooner than ever thought possible. The end is nigh.
Many a college student has found themselves in the terrifying situation of staring at a blank word document, struggling to find direction with a due date ominously looming – albeit in far less dramatic fashion. Fear not, for hope is within reach. Any college student can be the survivor that walks away at the end of the horror film. The survival tools needed are proper planning and an outline.
Proper planning is anything and everything that can reliably defeat procrastination, and better yet, encourage proactive research and writing. Having trouble actually getting around to the assignment? Designate an hour or more a day strictly for writing and research, and keep to the schedule. Having trouble ignoring distractions at home? Labor at a local café, library, or any quiet, relaxing environment, such as the Amarillo College Writers’ Corner. Does the assignment look insurmountably big? Set short term goals to accomplish, like creating an outline, researching a set amount of sources per day, and completing a rough draft.
Outlining an essay allows for brainstorming, and it also provides a solid structure. A strong first step in putting together an outline is to craft a thesis statement – the heart of the essay. Once the main idea slash argument has been formed, further brainstorming is required on the dark and stormy night. Following the normal five-paragraph essay format, begin formulating three assertions based on the thesis statement. The aforementioned assertions can very well double as topic sentences if done right. Once the three thesis-backed main points are on paper, the next step is to think about evidence, examples, and supporting details for each point. Once the skeleton of the outline has come together, the essay becomes much easier to flesh out.
Resist the stalking terror that is the essay due date with the sword and shield of proper planning and outlining. The word-seekers of today can and should survive the college-induced slasher flicks of tomorrow.
This column about writing and the writing process is created by the Amarillo College Writers’ Corner tutors. The name “Word for Word” pays tribute to Robert W. Wylie (1923-2011), who worked at Amarillo College from 1963 until 1992. He was chairman of the English Department from 1984 to 1992, served as Writer-in-Residence at AC for several years after his retirement and wrote a weekly column for the Amarillo Globe-News called “Word for Word” from 1992 through 2003.
The Writers’ Corner provides free tutors who review assignment requirements, provide constructive feedback, and guide students through all phases of the writing process.
The Writer’s Corner also offers:
* One-on-one tutoring sessions with trained tutors
* Small workshops throughout the semester covering various aspects of academic writing
* In-class presentations on the role of the Writers’ Corner
* A waiting area for walk-ins and early arrivals
* Coffee for students with appointments