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Every Thousand Mile Journey (Or 20-page Paper) Begins with a Step

Most writers feel some anxiety when starting assignments. If possible, embrace anxiety as fuel. Then, try some of these steps to get words down on paper.

What's Up, Prof?

First, look closely at the assignment. Paraphrase the assignment in your own words and then talk with your professor to make sure that you understand it properly. Be sure to write up points for clarification with your instructor.

Write up a Brainstorm!

After you feel confident with the assignment, spend ten minutes brainstorming approaches on areas of the assignment which most interest you. Let yourself freely list ideas until your time expires. Examine your list and choose your approach.

Who, What, When, Where, Why...

On paper, ask and answer some questions. For whom is your paper? What does your audience know about your subject? What do you want them to learn from your paper? What sort of paper is it: informative or persuasive? If you get on a roll with your questions, keep going and see what other ideas emerge.

Get It Out...

You might get started writing your paper by talking your ideas through with a friend. Have the person write down everything you say. In this instance, you shouldn't worry about grammar, spelling, or organization. Just get your thoughts out. Once you have several pages, take a look at what you have said and decide what to keep for development.

Says Who?

If your paper involves the use of outside evidence, do some passage-based freewriting. Give yourself fifteen minutes with each quote you plan to use. During this time, freely write how you think this quote fits in with your main point and how it compares with your other evidence.

Get It Together...

Once you have a thesis, try an outline. First, list every main point that you want to make in your paper. Do not worry about order, simply get down each point. Once you have them down, examine their order. What do you think should come first? Second? Third? Where should each piece of your evidence go?

Half Way There!

If you follow these steps, you will no longer be starting your writing assignment. You will be well on your way to completing it!

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