Proofreading

by Brock

Proofreading is easily one of the most cumbersome stages of writing.  Nobody wants to do it. Nobody likes it.  It’s outright boring.  Regardless of these feelings, it must be done. People make mistakes, their mind thinks quicker than their hands can type, they pause writing and start later.  Whatever the cause of mistakes, there is almost always at least one way a paper can benefit from proofreading.

During proofreading, you can fix grammar mistakes, improve clarity, realize a different organization might work better, and notice logical or citation mistakes.  The purpose of proofreading would suggest that this is a process best done at the end of writing but before you turn in the paper.  You don’t want to turn in a paper and realize that you made a bunch of mistakes that your professor marked, such as a run-on sentence that comprises an entire paragraph, and then realize that your grade dropped because of your silly mistakes that could have easily been avoided by taking the time to proofread your paper and then you would wish you took the time to fix these mistakes so your paper was the very best that you could do because you are a student who is fully capable of producing excellent pieces of work.

Proofreading is not something to be rushed.  I get it – the last thing you want to do after writing a paper all night is to spend more time looking at it to find where you could make improvements.  You’re over the paper and don’t even want to look at it again until your professor hands it back to you.  You may think it’s as simple as running spell check and printing it.  Remember, though, that there is much more to accomplish through thorough proofreading than fixing grammar mistakes.  Set aside a good amount of time for proofreading and your patience will be rewarded.  This may mean that you need to finish your paper more than an hour before you turn it in, but in doing this you have a reason to reward yourself.

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So, a few tips on how to proofread would be helpful.  Each person has different strategies, so some might work for you and others might not.

The first tip is to read your paper backwards.

What?! Are you crazy! Well yes, I am, but this is a trick that works.  When you read your paper forward, your mind is trained to read right over what you wrote, expecting everything to be in its place.  By reading from the end to the beginning, you focus more on your word choice and sentence structure.  This is a good strategy to identify grammatical problems, especially the ones that spell check does not recognize.

Another tip is to separate yourself from your work.

What I mean is to write your paper and then walk away from it.  Take this time to relax and do something you enjoy.  Go play with your dog, Pundit, who is an absolute angel. Watch a movie. Do whatever you want. But whether you step away for an hour or a few days, you will notice that it is easier to read through your paper and identify areas to work on.  The more time spent away, the better this works because you let your mind get away from the stresses and ideas that produced the original work.  You enter the paper with a fresh mind and new perspective after having more time to process your ideas.

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The Learning Hub has a handout on editing and proofreading (see below) that covers these strategies as well as others.  It is a great resource if you want to improve your proofreading skills.  Also helpful are our other handouts on topics ranging from grammar to citations.  If you find yourself looking to reaffirm your knowledge or learn new skills, these handouts are amazing resources. The Hub is also giving a workshop later this semester on editing, revising, and writer’s block that will be taking place April 16th and 17th.

Hopefully you’ve broken your bad writing habits this month! Stay tuned for a post tomorrow kicking off our March theme. Hint: it’s gonna be MADNESS!

Entitled to a Title

By Patrick

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This month we’re breaking bad writing habits, and this week we’re specifically talking about how important titles are to a paper. They convey so much in so few words, so it’s very important to take advantage of its power to entice your reader to read what you’ve written!

Check out what Patrick has to say in the video below, and then see our handout on creating well crafted titles to help you break this bad writing habit!

 

Combat your bad writing habits by visiting with one of our writing staff in The Learning Hub! Make an appointment today!

PROcrastination

by Sidney

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Full disclosure: I agreed to make this blog post about procrastination over a week ago and it goes up tomorrow.  And…. I am just now starting it.  The master procrastinator right here.  Me and procrastination go way back. We are old friends.  In kindergarten  I threw an assignment sheet into the trash because I had waited too long to start it and it was stressing me out. Throwing it away didn’t make the assignment disappear, but it did make me feel better.

Sometimes you just get to the point where you’ve waited too long and there is no chance to fix it. If you’ve reached that point then let it go, and do better next time. Learn from your mistakes.  There are ways to overcome procrastination. Sometimes they work, sometimes you still find yourself in the mess I am in right now.  So, be kind to yourself. If you messed up, remember that you are only human and that the end of the world really isn’t at hand.

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 I certainly do not advocate throwing away homework assignments. However, I do advocate taking a deep breath and keeping things in perspective. If you’ve procrastinated then the assignment is due soon and your torment is nearing an end.  However, here are some things you can do to battle the procrastination demon.

START EARLY!!!

You will be so happy if you do. Starting something can be the hardest part. If you have a big test coming up, set aside even a small amount of time (15 minutes? That’s doable, right?) every day for studying. If you have a paper to write, get started as soon as it is assigned. Even if you just write an outline or do some brainstorming exercises, getting something (anything) on paper can be extremely helpful.

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RESPECT DEADLINES

A deadline is the procrastinator’s best friend. They can keep us on track if we let them. Don’t blow off deadlines, especially when you set them for yourself. That reinforces the idea that deadlines are unimportant and breakable. Trusting in your own follow through is important to developing confidence in your ability to be a productive person.

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LISTEN TO YOURSELF

If you are having anxiety over an upcoming deadline, listen to that anxiety. It is telling you to be productive. Don’t watch any more Netflix!!!

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REWARD YOURSELF

We all respond to positive reinforcement. Give yourself a break, eat a chip in between each page of reading, take a five minute Instagram break in between each chapter. Whatever floats your boat!

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Anyway, procrastination can be a lifelong struggle. There is no perfect formula for overcoming it. Trust me, I have tried. I take heart in telling myself that my tendency to procrastinate is a side effect of being a creative and sensitive person. This may be, but I am also capable of developing habits and skills that will help me work better and smarter. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

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Check out the academic skills page on The Learning Hub website for more tips and tricks for successful studenting. We have a workshop on Procrastination happening next month, so be there, and beat your bad writing habits!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do…

Everyone has bad habits when it comes to your writing process and writing skills. Don’t be ashamed to admit it! Knowledge of your bad habits is the first step toward breaking them and improving yourself as a student or professional.

Let’s all pledge this month to break up… Breaking up is never an easy process, but hopefully with the tips we’ll be providing this month, breaking up with your bad writing habits will be possible, and manageable!

In this video kicking off our February 2018, The Learning Hub’s writing staff admit to their bad writing habits. What are some of yours? Comment below!

Combat your bad writing habits by visiting with one of our writing staff in The Learning Hub! Make an appointment today!