The first stage of writing a paper always begins with me and Microsoft Word in a staring contest; its cursor always blinking, waiting for me fill the bright, white page that is just as blank as my thoughts. Introductions have always been my biggest hold up. I’ve been taught in the past to free write in order to get all of my thoughts out on paper and then go back to fix the structure, but I can never seem to do that until after I construct a solid introduction.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of staring at a blank computer screen for hours has never been the most appealing use of my time. This thought has led me to find any and every distraction I can find in order to prolong the inevitable staring contest I have with every paper I have ever been assigned. I will go from watching crappy shows on Netflix, to finding any reason to celebrate with my friends, to picking up an extra shift at work, just to get out of writing a paper. I have even taken up baking as a form of procrastination which I like to refer to as “Procrastibaking.”
After anywhere from about an hour to several days go by, I usually have gathered my thoughts enough to write a decent introduction. Or in better terms, the deadline was probably approaching quickly so I had to put on my big girl pants, stare Microsoft Word down and start filling its pages with my thoughts.
Once the introduction is out of the way, my fingers are usually fast at work, typing out all the thoughts that have been building up in my mind, but couldn’t flow out until that darn introduction was finished.
Another huge pitfall in my writing is properly citing sources, especially in-text citations. I usually second guess myself on when I should use an in-text citation. I don’t want to come off as plagiarizing but I also don’t want to place a citation in my paper when it isn’t necessary. I never really learned the proper way to cite anything in MLA format so this semester helped me get a good grasp on what it should look like. I still struggle with it a little because it is, in a way, new to me. However, I feel I’ve done pretty well so far with the little bit of knowledge I do have onciting.
Now that I know my weaknesses, it’s a little easier to start developing them further. I’ve learned that procrastination is an extremely hard habit to break, but it’s a little easier when I isolate myself from as many distractions such as my phone and people.
I’ve also learned that my citing errors will improve with more practice. The more papers I have to write that include a works cited page or in-text citation with help me learn and retain the proper way to cite sources.
A couple of things I feel I do really well when writing papers is being descriptive and organizing my papers in a way that they flow smoothly. I feel I did really well at being descriptive in my personal essay, “Sunday Dinner.” One of the biggest things we learned this semester is to “show” the reader instead of just simply telling the reader. I wanted to do my best at getting the reader to imagine exactly what was going on instead of just reading words off of a page. I feel like I did this well throughout the whole paper, such as in the beginning when I wrote, “I could hear the distinct sound of church shoes tapping to the beat as the music became louder. The sounds of pots and pans, opening and closing of cupboards, and laughter followed. Eyes still closed, I smiled; knowing the aroma of my favorite meal would soon fill the home I’ve grown to adore.”