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Hard Beginnings

November 4, 2014

by: Jess Crawley

Have you ever received an assignment sheet and not known where to begin, or wondered how to get into the right mindset to just sit down and start writing the darn thing? With all these papers assigned midway through the semester, it’s hardly a surprise when your mind turns to mud thinking about how on earth you are going to begin each paper. Having some experience with this particular conundrum, here is some helpful advice for getting that first paragraph on the paper:AskQuestionsPlease

  • Ask
    • Don’t be afraid to go to your professor’s office to discuss the assignment or your topic. Office hours are there for a reason! Teachers and professors are here to help, and most are happy to aid you in the early development of an assignment. Do not, however, go to your professor thinking that they will tell you exactly what to write. You have to come up with ideas yourself!
  • Brainstorm
    • Yes, this is a simple step in the writing process, but it is an important one. Come up with ideas on what you want to discuss in your paper and what points you want to hit. People brainstorm in hugely different ways; some people make lists, others draw concept maps, still others research the topic or refer to notes to get ideas. Find a method that works for you!
  • Free Write
    • When you know what you want to write about, and you know where you want to go with your paper, but you don’t know how to begin, always free write. This will get your mind working and your ideas on the page. From there, read over what you’ve written, and see if there are any great sentences or ideas that you want to keep for your draft.
  • Don’t rush to write the introduction
    • Introductions are often the most difficult to write aspects of writing. Waiting to write your introduction until after you’ve organized your ideas is a great idea.
  • Visit the University Writing Center
    • The University Writing Center is here to help when you’re stuck in any point of the writing process! When you’re really not sure how to begin, bring your assignments sheet and your ideas about the paper topic to the UWC, and we will sit down with you and help you work through those hard beginnings.

Even if you know the paper topic and know what you want to write about, sitting down and writing the first line of the paper is almost always difficult. These are just a few tips you can use to start your paper in a calm, cool, and collected manner. There are many other ways to begin, and each person’s writing process is different, but if you find yourself consistently stressed out when you start a new assignment, then maybe it’s time to try something new!from-humble-beginnings-001

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