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Summer Plans Changed: Developing Writing and Communication Skills After Covid Cancellations

Author: Adrianna Waters

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted thousands of college students’ lives in the spring 2020 semester, and unfortunately, it continues to interrupt summer plans. Several college students, especially upperclassmen, use summer as an opportunity to gain valuable and marketable experience through internships, jobs, study abroad programs, and more. While the U.S. is on a path toward normalcy—albeit a muddled and long path—many summer experiences were suspended, canceled, or diminished to accommodate for safety and social distancing practices, leaving college students without the chance to gain valuable skills.

However, just like how we adapted to work or study at home, college students can adapt to acquire marketable skills, portfolio pieces, and more from home. Here are a few ways to build up your resume and portfolio without a summer internship. 

Start New Projects

Have you had an idea for a short story typed in your laptop for months, only to never be explored because of time? Or have you been itching to start a blog but never got around to it? If you are without the internship or experience you sought, summer is a great way to start new projects or writing. By doing so, you build up portfolio pieces and gain more experience writing or working in a specific field, both of which will help you market yourself for a future job.

For English majors, writing is one of the strongest ways to improve your portfolio. If you are a creative writer, using the summer to create a writing schedule for poetry or prose writing will strengthen your portfolio and your artistic accomplishments; however, you do not have to be a creative writer to improve your sense of language and style. Blogging is a source of writing and marketing that English majors can use. Common examples of blogs include reviews for books, movies, TV shows, or music; food, cooking, or nutrition; lifestyle; faith; travel; clothing; and more. If starting a blog is too overwhelming, consider contributing articles to blogs or websites that accept submissions, like English for Secondary Teachers major Lauren Sheppard did for Her Campus. Because several jobs that English majors seek may require blog writing, creating and updating a personal blog provides you with skills and experience that you can acquire from your own home.

Similarly, social media is increasingly important for communication, and the jobs English majors seek often involve social media. Using the summer to learn more about social media marketing for personal and non-personal uses gives you knowledge on a highly marketable skill. You can take the next step by applying this knowledge to your own social media accounts, whether this be your personal account or a topic-specific account. Social media communities for book reviews (called “Bookstagram”) are a natural starting point for English majors, especially those interesting in a book-related field after college, like book editing and publishing. The topics for personal blogs can be explored in social media accounts as well.

Revise Past Writing

Starting new projects is not the only way to spend the summer wisely; English students have access to countless papers, projects, or other assignments that can be revised and included in your portfolio. The thought of spending more time on essays so soon after the semester ends may seem tedious or stressful, but taking a look at projects from past semesters—after you have had a chance to distance yourself from the assignments—is a valuable way to incorporate feedback from professors and improve your writing, thus strengthening pieces for your portfolio.

Additionally, revising writing during the summer will save you time if you wish to submit to WKU publications such as The Ashen Egg, Zephyrus, student conferences, contests, etc. For a list of publishing opportunities in and outside of WKU, go here.

Freelance Writing or Editing

If you are disappointed in the lack of on-the-job experience during the summer, freelance work is a useful avenue to consider. Using social media and personal connections to advertise your availability as a freelance writer, editor, etc. provides practical experiences using the skills you have learned in class, preparing you for future jobs or internships after the summer; you can also document this work on your resume or portfolio. Showing employers that you adapted to current events to practice communication skills demonstrates responsibility and flexibility, two traits that are sought after in the job field.

Freelance work has become more common, especially for English graduates. If you are interested in pursuing freelance or remote work after college, trying freelance work this summer provides experience. It should be noted, however, that freelance work can be challenging, especially if you decide to use it as a reliable and stable source of income. For advice and resources about freelance work, go here.

Create a Website or Portfolio

Now that you have improved your portfolio pieces and gained valuable skills, you can learn to market those skills, and a website is a starting point to broadcast your experiences. Websites are used to show tangible examples of your skills, a natural avenue for writers. Uploading your resume, including educational and work experience, and highlighting awards on a website shows your audience that you have the multimedia skills to present your work on more than just paper.

Additionally, because resumes and cover letters cannot show the full range of your writing, you can use websites to provide explicit examples of your writing skills. Do not limit a website to just class assignments; including examples of creative, academic, professional, journalistic, or personal writing demonstrates to future employers your wide variety of writing skills, an action that is significant for those seeking jobs in writing, editing, or content creation. For some examples of websites or portfolios, check out English major graduates Oliva Mohr and Leah Walker.

Get a Head Start on Next Semester

Although the exact plans for next semester are still uncertain, you can ease some of the anxiety or stress by getting a head start on projects or opportunities for fall 2020. For students who will be completing a capstone or thesis project, using the summer to brainstorm ideas, research relevant topics, or even draft ideas will improve your preparation for the fall semester—and open up more time for other work you may have in the fall.

If you have a new job, internship, or position next semester, you can research and brainstorm ideas to bring to the table, making you more prepared and starting your position on a positive note. If you wish to seek or apply for positions next semester, get a head start on that search now. While all information, applications, or positions may not be available yet, there may be some information from past applications that you can research. If you have an idea of what you are interested in applying for and what those applications call for, you can seek out experiences that will make you a more competitive candidate for that position.

Non-traditional or Remote Internships

Because of the uncertainty of future plans, some companies are offering remote or non-traditional internships in the future. A few internships were remote this summer, and it is possible that internships beginning in fall 2020 or starting during the winter—in which there is some concern whether the virus may return—may become remote instead of being canceled. If it looks like circumstances are going to change again, do not panic! Consider applying for remote internships or experiences. They may not be exactly what you were imagining, but some experience is better than no experience, and future employers will recognize your ability to seek opportunities during uncertain times.

Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Author: Adrianna Waters

One of the most common concerns for students is citing material in their writing. From questions over the nitty-gritty details of the works cited or reference page to uncertainty over in-text citations or quotations, citations elude several writers. Here are some tips to master the confusion of citations.

The fear of plagiarism is instilled into students in several ways, such as that ominous section in every class syllabus or the threat of receiving a zero on an essay. The Writing Center never wants plagiarism anxiety to prevent students from using sources to support their writing. Additionally, many students understand that plagiarism is unacceptable, but they do not always understand how to avoid it.

Scribbr’s instructional video “How to Avoid Plagiarism in 3 Easy Steps” provides helpful tips for citing without plagiarizing. When researching or outlining essays, keep track of every source you reference. For internet sources, a good practice is to bookmark or favorite pages or keep a Word document of every link you visit. For paper sources, keeping a list of consulted sources and using bookmarks or sticky notes to keep track of specific pages is another good method. Once you start pulling information from these sources, make sure you match each quotation or piece of information with the author, title, and page number or link if relevant. For students who want to wait until the end of the writing process to insert in-text citations, leaving a visible note in your essay after each piece of cited material will prevent yourself from forgetting to add the correct information. Finally, be sure to consult a citation manual to ensure you are using the correct methods for in-text citations and works cited/references pages. Purdue OWL is a great resource because it updates the guidelines as the citation rules change.

To fully avoid plagiarism, however, it is important to understand the different methods of using or citing material in your writing.

Summarizing

Summarizing is one method to use information from a source in your writing. Summarizing takes the main idea of a source and condenses it. A summary does not need to be set off by quotation marks unless you are using the exact words or phrases in the text. Depending on how much information you are summarizing, a summary can be as short as a sentence or two or as long as a paragraph. While summaries are important for any essay, they are especially relevant in literary analysis or research papers that require the writer to provide the audience with enough information about the text(s) being discussed. However, it is also important to keep in mind that too much summary without enough analysis can weaken the paper.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is similar to summarizing, and it is easy to confuse the two. While summarizing recaps the main idea from a text, paraphrasing rephrases the original text in your own words. Like summarizing, paraphrasing does not need to be set off by quotations, but it does need to be accompanied by an in-text citation. However, you must be careful that the information is not too similar to the original text. Paraphrasing does not mean replacing a word or two from the original text with a few synonyms. Instead, the writer should find a way to say the information in their own words.

Here’s an example from Dracula of the original quotation, an inadequate paraphrase, and an adequate paraphrase. (Note: all in-text citations are in MLA).

  • Original: “It was the doubt as to the reality of the whole thing that knocked me over” (Stoker 200).
  • Inadequate paraphrase: Jonathan Harker said that the uncertainty of the reality of the whole thing knocked him over (Stoker 200).
  • Adequate paraphrase: Jonathan Harker said that the uncertainty of the situation made him anxious and paranoid (Stoker 200).

For more assistance on paraphrasing, see Scribbr’s videos “Paraphrasing and Summarizing” and “How to Paraphrase in 5 Easy Steps.”

Quoting

The last way to incorporate information into your writing is through direct quotations. A direct quotation provides the exact wording from the text. It must be in quotations, and it needs an in-text citation. There are different ways to include a direct quotation in a paper. While it may be tempting to simply “drop” a quotation in your writing, smoothly integrating it makes for a more cohesive paper.  Scribbr’s video “How to Quote in Under 5 Minutes” goes more in-depth with the different strategies of quoting, but here are a few tips to keep in mind.

You can integrate a quote with a transition word or phrase, such as “according to,” “when the character realizes that,” or “the author states that…” You can also do partial quotations by using the words or phrases from a text that are most important and weaving them into a sentence. Looking back on the Dracula example from earlier, here are some different ways to integrate the quotation.

Transition phrase: Jonathan says that “it was the doubt as to the reality of the whole thing that knocked me over” (Stoker 200).

Partial quotation: Jonathan’s madness resulted from “the doubt as to the reality” of the situation (Stoker 200).

Whichever way you decide to integrate your quotation, make sure you include the proper citation material and keep the context of the original text in mind.

Other Resources

Still having trouble with citations? Here are some extra videos you may find helpful:

Listen to Your Writing

Author: Fallon Russell

Editor: DJ Cox

When it comes to proofreading my own work, I struggle. As I look over my writing, my brain often skips over typos, weird phrasing, grammatical errors, and confusing sentences because I’m so familiar with my own work. Inside my head, all of my thoughts make sense. When I read my writing silently, my brain automatically makes sense of mistakes that may be obvious to someone else.

If this struggle seems familiar to you, try reading your writing out loud and listening to how your writing sounds. Since I began implementing this strategy in my own work, proofreading has been a much smoother and more effective process. It was odd reading my own writing to only myself. Typically, if I read anything out loud, I’m reading to someone else, but reading out loud alone forced me to slow down and notice the details in my writing.

It may be uncomfortable at first, but when you hear the words you write out loud instead of in your head, it’s easier to notice an unclear sentence, a poorly chosen word, or a repetitive paragraph. It’s also easier to identify typos, missing words, or extra words. Often, these mistakes are easier heard than seen. If you encounter an error when reading out loud, it’s noticeable. A typo or grammatical mistake might make you stop and think, ‘What was this supposed to say?’ Once a mistake is recognized, it can then be corrected.

Sometimes what we want to say seems fine in our heads, but when we say it out loud, it just doesn’t come out right. Reading aloud forces us to engage with our writing and pay closer attention to detail than reading silently. When we listen to our writing and hear our mistakes, we have a better understanding of how to revise our work. If you find that you’re repeating yourself a lot, try varying your sentence structure and word choice. If you notice your rhythm is choppy, try combining short sentences to create a better flow.

Another option is to have someone else read your paper out loud to you. Ask a roommate or friend to read your work to you so that you can hear it in someone else’s voice. Also, it’s never a bad idea to have another pair of eyes look over your work. And don’t forget, you can always set up an appointment at The Writing Center; we’re happy to help!

As college students, it’s important that we learn strategies to help ourselves improve our own work. Not only will this help us succeed in college, but it will also make us valuable employees in the future. If you’re in need of other tips, check out Abby Ponder’s blog post for more advice about writing and editing your own drafts. Remember, next time you complete a writing assignment, try giving it a listen. Happy writing!

Losing Steam: How to Keep Your Writing on Track

Author: Hazel Rather

Editor: DJ Cox

Writing, as many of us know, can be an incredibly difficult task, regardless of whether it’s for a class assignment or for personal enjoyment. The process of actually writing out a lengthy piece can easily sap a lot of energy from you, leaving you feeling mentally exhausted. If you’re anything like me, you can probably pump out a few pages or so of writing in one sitting before you feel like your brain is dribbling out of your ears, but don’t give up so soon! There are methods to reinvigorate and recharge that energy and keep you writing through that difficult period of brain burn-out.

The following are some tips that I personally find helpful to keep me on track whenever I feel like I’m struggling to push through the burn-out.

Pace Yourself

If you’ve got a substantial paper or writing project assigned in one of your classes it can be easy to succumb to the temptations of procrastination, but that leaves you at risk of burning out when you’re suddenly feeling the pressure to write an entire assignment in just a few hours or so.

Instead, make sure to give yourself plenty of time in advance to work through the writing one piece at a time. This is especially important if you often feel like you write best in short bursts of time as opposed to completing a whole paper in one sitting. Personally, I typically gauge the required length of my papers against the amount of time it would take for me to complete them; for example, if I need to write a ten-page paper, I know that I need to give myself plenty of buffer time to get it done. Therefore, I would schedule myself to write a few pages per day in order to allow myself time to recharge as well as to get the assignment finished on time.

This tip requires you to know in advance how much you can comfortably write in one session, that way you can plan the right writing schedule that works best for you. Fighting off the urge to procrastinate can be tough but using this method will ensure that you keep a comfortable pace and that you produce the best work you can.

Get in the Zone with Tunes

Whenever I’m having trouble writing, I typically find that the right musical accompaniment can help me block out everything distracting around me and even quiet some of the mental noise that seems to pop up at the most inopportune times, such as random wandering thoughts about what you’ll have for dinner or when you’ll next do your laundry.

In order to help myself focus on the writing task at hand, I’ll often put on some relaxing music. For me, it’s best if the music I choose is instrumental only instead of vocal, so therefore it’s typically either soundtrack music from film, television, or video games, or, more commonly, songs with ambient or trance-like vibes. Vocals in a song can almost guarantee that I’ll pay more attention to the words in the song than to my writing, but smooth ambience, droning synths, and distant, ethereal melodies set the perfect mood to get my mind focused and my writing flowing.

If this kind of music sounds like it would be effective for your writing as well, here are some of my go-to album recommendations for focusing:

  • Birth of a New Day by 2 8 1 4
    • This ambient album evokes the feeling of a romantic, rainy night in a glowing neon metropolis; the city bustles around us, but our journey through the streets and subways is quiet and introspective.
  • Building a Better World by Telepath & Cat System Co.
    • Vast, airy synths and warm melodies place us at a futuristic, otherworldly construction site where a pair of lovers, having escaped the corruption and decay on earth, are crafting a shining new utopia for the future of humanity.
  • Stranger Things soundtrack by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
    • Many of you are likely familiar with this one, but honestly some of the more chilled-out and relaxing tracks from the show that I’ve linked here evoke that classic 80’s synthwave feel, perfect for blocking out the world and focusing.
  • Skyrim soundtrack by Jeremy Soule
    • A bit different from the other recommendations in that it’s entirely orchestral as opposed to electronic, but the subdued horns, flowing strings, and ambient nature sounds make this fantasy soundtrack feel like home, embracing the expansive Nordic landscape of the game from which it hails.

Reward Yourself

            Self-care is obviously an important part of being a student. You can’t simply run yourself ragged forcing yourself to work; the quality of your work will suffer because of it and it will certainly show. In order to make sure you keep the pace you’ve scheduled, plan ahead and set goals with clear rewards at the end. By promising small rewards for little victories, you’re more likely to go through with your plans.

            One reward system I typically like to keep involves promising that, if I keep on track and finish a few pages of work, I’ll allow my brain to rest by taking a break to watch an episode of my favorite TV show. Similarly, you could do this with many other kinds of rewards. Finish a set amount of work in a day and you’re allowed to buy an extra treat to go with dinner for the night, for example. By taking something you like and enjoy and incorporating it into your work schedule, you can ensure that procrastination doesn’t take hold and that you’re able to keep on top of your work plans.

            Hopefully, you have found these tips useful as we continue to make our way through this time of social distancing. I know that staying motivated can be difficult with so much going on, but it is important to stay positive and to keep moving forward. We will get through this together. Stay safe and wash your hands!

Working from a Distance: Tips on Adjusting to Working Away from Campus

Author: Adrianna Waters

Editor: DJ Cox

Now that all WKU classes and activities are officially online for the rest of the semester, finding the motivation to do homework is challenging, especially if you are back home or quarantined to your house or apartment. For some students, writing for class, work, or extra-curricular activities may be difficult. Here are some tips for writing while quarantined:

Find a space with minimal distractions to do your writing:

Before being quarantined to apartments or houses, many students had a preferred spot for studying or completing homework. Although some study spots are still available, such as the Honors College and International Center and the library, their hours have decreased, social distancing limits the number of people able to take advantage of these rooms, and they don’t benefit students who returned home and are no longer in Bowling Green. Other popular spots are closed, such as Spencer’s or Starbucks. If you are able to work in your room without getting distracted, considering setting up a desk area complete with your necessary writing materials, such as sticky notes, pens, notebooks, etc.

However, for several students, the main advantage of library rooms or coffee shops is the removal of bedroom distractions. If this is the case for you, consider recreating a study spot in your house or apartment. For coffee shop lovers, a small spot in the kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee or tea may work best for you. There are also websites and videos of “coffee chat” or “indistinct chatter” for those who work best with background noise.

For those who prize the quiet atmosphere of the library, a spot in your living or dining room could be a close replacement—but be sure to keep the TV off. If you have parents or siblings who are also working from home, choose a spot away from them to avoid the impulse to chat instead of write. While there is no solid method for creating a perfect writing or studying spot, it would be best to avoid areas with temptations of sleeping or watching TV.

Take steps to get in the writing mood:

Some students have trouble getting in the writing mindset even without a quarantine; it’s even more difficult when you haven’t left the house in days. Although it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas most of the day, getting dressed and acting as if you are going to class will switch your mindset from “relaxing” to “working.”

It may help to consider what steps you took to get in the writing mood before the quarantine. Do you make a fresh cup of coffee or tea? Do you listen to classical music? Do you read a short article or poem? Many of these steps can be repeated with little to no changes; however, it is important to make sure these steps do not turn into procrastination.

Seek assistance from virtual sources:

Without in-person classes and office hours, seeking help for essays can be challenging. Each professor has altered how they are delivering their instruction, but several professors are using Zoom, a video conference website, to conduct classes or hold meetings. If your professor is open to it, consider scheduling meetings over Zoom or other video/phone software to discuss writing assignments. While you can still use emails or Blackboard to ask questions, you may receive more information or assistance through conversations.

Of course, you can always use the Writing Center. While we are not open in our Cherry or Cravens locations, all students are available to schedule appointments online—not just students who are off-campus. To schedule an online appointment, either click here or email us at writingcenter@wku.edu.

Several online resources are available for assistance writing papers. Purdue OWL has information on the MLA, APA, and Chicago style guides, and it is also a good resource for grammar rules. For students wanting to do a final check for grammar mistakes or typos, Grammarly offers a basic proofreading review for free—though students should double check all suggestions made by Grammarly to determine that they are accurate within their paper’s context. While online resources are a great supplement to the writing process, they should not replace revising your own work or seeking help from professors or tutors.

Establish a writing process:

The Writing Center has several posts about creating a writing process, and these pieces of advice still apply. With social distancing and quarantining, the temptation to procrastinate the writing process is even higher. However, it is even more important to set aside multiple days to brainstorm ideas, create an outline, draft your writing, and revise your essay. For more assistance with various writing steps, see Adrianna Waters’ blog post about the writing process, Jacky Killian’s post about researching, Abby Ponder’s post about outlining, or Emily Diehl’s post about revising.

While this transition may be challenging for some, we all have to try to adjust to the situation in order to ensure our academic success. Hopefully, this advice will make working from home easier for you.

Opening Yourself: The Journey to Improving Your Writing

Author: Ben Vanover

Editor: DJ Cox

Whether you are a creative writer or writing for the academic purposes that most of us encounter during college, learning to open your writing—and by extension yourself—is one of the most important aspects of the writing process. While the WKU Writing Center has already discussed revising your argument to ensure that you have the best possible case for yourself and your writing, in a post by Kylie Carson that can be found here, revision is only part of the writing process. How do you ever know what to revise in the first place? For that, we have to look at the comments that our peers, professors, and other general allies in life have for us.

I’m sure that some of us are haunted by the terms “Peer Review,” or “Workshopping.” Our disdain for these common practices undoubtedly comes from bad experiences we’ve all had with these forms of collaborative feedback, but that should not prevent us, as writers, from seeking them out from time-to-time. Through her description of the writing process, Adrianna Waters shows us that having others review our work is one of the steps that cannot be avoided if we want our writing to be at its best.

However, this does not mean that you have to show your early drafts to your classmates, professors, or even your editors first. Along the way, anyone can see and make comments on your progress. At first you might think, “They aren’t in my major—they wouldn’t understand.” This can be a fallacy along the writing journey that many of us take. Whether it is your best friend, roommate, parent, or partner, the people in your life may have useful insights that would make your essay or creative piece that much more captivating to your audience. If all else fails and you are not comfortable with anyone in your personal life taking a look at your writing, WKU’s Writing Center can help you out —from brainstorming until the final draft, we’re here for you. 

Who am I to talk, though? Who do I give my writing to, anyway? While many of my friends and family members don’t mind helping me from time-to-time, I typically don’t want to bore them with dense literary criticism or absurdist creative writing. For those subjects, I turn to a dear friend I made during my time as an undergraduate, current Boston University PhD student Tristan J. New. At first, I assumed that fallacy I mentioned earlier: Tristan was a History major in undergrad and by default not in my field of study, what could he possibly have to offer? As it turns out, quite a bit. From philosophy to psychology, he is able to tackle it all. Good writing, as some people define it, seems to transcend majors or fields of study. We can all recognize if something is good—whether we find it dense and boring may be a different matter, but we can all recognize quality.

By that logic, I would recommend that everyone turn to a friend or family member who may be able to help them improve their writing habits. While opening yourself to your cohort may be difficult at first, it gets easier with time. Before you know it, you’ll be bringing every paper to someone you know or a trusted tutor at the Writing Center before submitting it for that final grade. However, don’t forget that your professor could also be a part of this mixture. By bringing a paper directly to them you allow yourself to see exactly what in your writing they do and do not like: what needs work and what should stay unchanged.  Even when not meeting with a professor directly, emailing them with any of the questions about the format and execution of your paper, assuming you give them enough time to email you back, is always a good call.

Regardless of who you send your writing to, make sure that they do their due diligence with it—red ink on a draft may be intimidating, but allows us to grow as writers and develop ourselves along the way . Happy writing, and we’ll see you next time!

I’m Not Lazy, I Just Have Depression: Being a Writer with an Abnormal Mindset

Author: Danny Taylor

Editor: DJ Cox

Being a writer is not easy. Ask any number of writers, regardless if they write for fun or only if they have to, and much of the time the answer is the same: Writing is challenging. Getting ideas from words to paper sometimes seems like an Olympic feat, but when one’s mind is often stuck in an atypical state, it’s ten times harder. Having depression is difficult as a young adult, and being a college student with the constant pressure of deadlines and tests can make an already depressed student want to run and hide under a blanket for the next four years; and having to write paper after paper can sometimes exacerbate the issue.

Motivating oneself to sit down and write a paper often feels like a form of self-punishment. This feels doubly true if you are a student who hardly had to try to get by in high school and have suddenly hit a brick wall in college, you might feel like high school did not truly prepare you for what laid ahead, and having that constant storm cloud over one’s head can give students the dreaded writer’s block, diminishing creativity and motivation.  

Depression for college students can often seem like you’re rolling a boulder up a steep hill, but there is hope. There are plenty of resources on college campuses that can help with anxiety, ADHD, and even depression. Most college campuses will have some kind of mental health facility with trained therapists, whose job is to listen and guide students to better mental health.  No one should feel ashamed for using those resources; even students who don’t have the aforementioned issues go in, usually during finals week or if they are just having a particularly hard week and need someone to help them cope. Even if some campuses do not have mental health facilities, students can always go off-campus to find help. Other times, help is a phone call or a Google search away. There are friends or family one could call, support groups on campus or off where students can talk to like-minded individuals, and there are support lines specialized to help with certain problems.

Sometimes, all it takes is writing just a little bit a day. Setting goals for oneself and sticking to them can make an incredible difference; a few sentences on Monday, a paragraph on Tuesday, three sentences on Wednesday, all add up until you are finished by the deadline. Working little by little on essays or other assignments leading up to the due date can lessen the pressure that comes with waiting until the night before a writing assignment is due.

On the other side, once you have finished an assignment, proofread it and then have someone else look at it to find things you may not have thought to look for. A second pair of eyes can help alleviate the stress of paper writing. Once you are done putting the finishing touches on it, turn it in and try not to worry yourself. It will only make you constantly second guess your work.

It also good to remember there is no shame in having depression as a student; there are always resources and ways to cope out there.  One thing to always remember, you are never the only one. Talking to a friend, family member, a roommate, a counselor, any of them can make a huge difference in a time of need. Depression does not go away overnight, but there are ways to make it easier.

Meet the Tutors: Adrianna Waters

Author: DJ Cox

Hello fellow writers! We here at the WKU Writing Center wanted to take a moment to introduce you to one of our excellent tutors, Adrianna Waters.

Adrianna has presented her work at the 2018 and 2019 WKU English Department’s Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture. She has also had her writing published by the Ashen Egg and was a finalist in the 2019 Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing Fiction Contest.  If you need help getting your writing or presentation ready to share with the world, Adrianna is the perfect tutor for the job!

Adrianna has taken the time to answer a few questions about her relationship with the English major.

What genre do you enjoy working with?

“I enjoy reading, writing, and tutoring most creative writing, but my favorite genre is fiction. I grew up devouring novels or short stories, and fiction has remained an important part of my identity. I also enjoy writing and reading plays or literary analysis papers.”

Why do you enjoy studying English?

“English is central to the art of storytelling. No matter what concentration you are studying—creative writing, literature, professional writing, or English for Secondary Education—some facet of your studies or future career will revolve around stories. In my classes, I have the opportunity to analyze stories and create my own, whether those be fictional stories, accounts of my life, or narratives of other people.”

What advice do you have for students regarding their own writing?

“My main piece of advice is to start writing and stop procrastinating. It seems obvious, but so many students and writers wait until the last minute to begin a project because of one writing myth or the other: writing in chunks is ineffective, writing must be done in one sitting, good writing is only accomplished under pressure, etc. It’s true that everyone has a different writing system, but developing a healthy writing process that does not rely on doing everything (researching, drafting, editing, revising) until the last minute will do wonders for your writing.”

If you are interested in setting up an appointment with Adrianna or another of our fantastic tutors, please visit the Writing Center today! You can drop by in person or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 5 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Sunday through Thursday.

How to Draft a Persuasive Book Pitch

Author: DJ Cox

A genre that every student should be familiar with is the academic textbook. Most college students will see a textbook in their career focused on a niche subject. A question that many English majors may ask when looking at these texts is how do the authors of these books convince the publishers to approve the production of their oddly specific text? The answer is that the author was able to craft a convincing pitch for their book. This report will focus on how writers and editors can use effective rhetorical strategies and some concise and clear wording to market their work effectivlly.

Know How to Discuss Content

An author needs to know how to talk about their content. Katelyn Knox, a writing blogger and Associate Professor of French at the University of Central Arkansas, suggest asking the author, “[c]an you describe your project to intelligent non-academics in ways that get them excited about the types of questions you’re asking and objects you’re analyzing” (Knox, 2017)? Many subject specialists struggle with articulating their knowledge to those outside of their content areas. Authors must know how to simplify their language to increase the accessibility of their writing, such as the editor reading over their book pitch. By maintaining an easily accessible tone throughout their pitch, the author stands a better chance of convincing the acquisitions editor to accept their work. 

Know What the Publisher Wants

Selecting a publishing house can be a difficult process. A freshman author is exposed to a vast sea of options and may struggle to find a publisher that fits well with their project. A suggestion that Manya Whitaker from The Chronicle of Higher Education has for authors in this situation is, “If your institution doesn’t have specific publication requirements, then start your search by looking at the books that influenced your project. Who published those texts? You want a press with a strong publication record in your subject area” (Whitaker, 2018). By looking at other works that have been accepted by a publication or seeing which publishing house commonly produces works similar to their work, an author can tailor their materials to best meet their publisher’s requirements.

Most publishers have a set of criteria that each submission must follow if the author hopes to have their work accepted. By understanding these rules, the author can save themselves a lot of time not only in the writing process but also in selecting the publishing house they wish to work with. An author who is hoping to publish their work should thoroughly research their options to ensure that they are submitting to the publishing houses that offer them the best chance at being accepted.  

Know How to Use Persuasive Language

Using persuasive language is arguably the most important aspect of drafting a successful book pitch. An author can talk all day about their content but if they cannot convince their audience, the publisher, that their knowledge is not only important but also marketable, then they are wasting their time. Whitaker has a checklist of requirements that every proposal should use while developing their pitch:

 “In no more than a page and a half, you should be able to convince an editor that:

  • Your topic fills an obvious gap in the field.
  • The content will be innovative while still being in conversation with other texts.
  • The intended audience will find the work useful.
  • The book will be well aligned with the press’s current and future publishing goals” (2018).

The above requirements are useful to an aspiring author because by ensuring that these criteriums are met before submitting work for publication, the writer will show to the acquisitions editor that they have considered the impact that their work could have on the publisher. This would vastly improve the author’s likelihood of being accepted for publication.

The Role of Editors in the Pitch Genre

Professional writers can be on both sides of the publication process that have been discussed by either editing the work of an author or through the work of an acquisition editor. In both cases, the role of editors remains the same: to analyze the authors’ content and to determine if their work is sufficient for publication. While the two roles are looking out for their respective client’s interests, the goal of producing a high-quality product remains the same. By understanding the conventions of the pitch genre, the professional editor will ensure that they consistently please their clientele by producing consistently high quality work.

If you are working on a book pitch or any other piece of writing, visit the WKU Writing Center today! While our tutors are not editors, we can help you address issues such as accessibility and persuasiveness in your writing to make your work shine.

Works Cited

Knox, K. (2018, December 21). Should You Pitch A Book to an Editor at a Conference? Consider This. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://katelynknox.com/writing-first-humanities-book/pitch-book-at-a-conference/

Whitaker, M. (2018, March 6). Crafting a Convincing Book Proposal. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/Crafting-a-Convincing-Book/242741

Meet the Tutors: Samantha Williams

Author: DJ Cox

Hello fellow writers! We here at the WKU Writing Center wanted to take a moment to introduce you to one of our excellent tutors, Samantha Williams.

Samantha has received both the Goldenrod Poetry Award 2019 and the Jim Wayne and Mary Ellen Miller Poetry Award 2019 as recognition of her outstanding skills as a poet. If you need help with understanding or creating a piece of poetry, Samantha is definitely well-versed and would be happy to help you the next time you visit the Writing Center!

Samantha has taken the time to answer a few questions about her relationship with the English major.

What genre do you enjoy working with?

“Personally, I’ll write anything.  I love writing creative nonfiction and poetry, but I also enjoy literary analysis and criticism.  When working with students in the Writing Center, my favorite thing to work on is a personal narrative.  I love hearing students’ stories, helping them develop their tellings and focusing the purpose for telling them.  A close second is argumentative essays and developing rhetoric for a solid, convincing argument.”  

Why do you enjoy studying English?

“English is a broad discipline, and I have a lot of interests.  It doesn’t limit me to just one area of study; I get the chance to do whatever research I like and use it to write something or analyze something in a new way.” 

What advice do you have for students regarding their own writing?

“Don’t be afraid to pre-write; it makes writing your drafts much easier.  Keep a writing journal to get your thoughts in order. Describe what you’re working on to a friend.  If all else fails, lie in bed and think about what you’re going to write. That’ll help, too.”

If you are interested in setting up an appointment with Samantha or another of our fantastic tutors, please visit the Writing Center today! You can drop by in person or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 5 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Sunday through Thursday.