A personal journal is your practice field. It can contain virtually anything--from your extemporaneous notes of what it feels like to be on a plane rapidly losing altitude, to your reaction to a given poem or class. A journal is a place to rehearse your ideas, to exercise your work, to prepare your thinking for more formal writing elsewhere.
Ken Macrorie suggests that journals are, among other things, good places
to collect "Fabulous Realities." Here are some from his student's work:
2) The instructor in Social Conflicts class said, "Man [sic] has aggressive tendencies and is less efficient in controlling them than other animals." A fly landed on his notes. With deadly accuracy he splattered it all over the white paper.
3) In the middle of a heated argument with me, my wife goes to the refrigerator, gets a bottle of ginger ale, fills two glasses, gives me one, and continue the argument." (Macrorie, P. 48)
Sometimes modest contradictions like these lead to fresh insights, new ways of seeing old things, that can contribute to your work later on. Sometimes it is simply worthwhile to memorialize your ideas. The key issue is to write--often.
Quantity does turn into quality. Add sufficient heat to water, you get steam. Of course, it must be the right quantity. Adding rocks to water would not help the analogy. Lots of bad writing will probably produce more bad writing. But with writing, as with much else, practice is critical.
Much of your practice writing will be quite personal, your thoughts
on subjects you may or may not be prepared to share. But you will probably
face requests from several classes, simultaneously, to keep journals--and
your entries will be read. You may need a ring-binder to keep a journal
that can be yours in its entirety, yet broken up to meet your academic
Response or reaction papers are composed as your critical reply to material delivered in a text or a class. Your instructor will specify length and questions of format.
These papers ask for more than simply your subjective, train-of-thought answer. Any of your written work should be completed with some deliberation. You might consider the critical questions above as a potential format.
But you are being asked to report more than your subjective feelings.
Precisely what are your ideas and how do you support them? What in the
substance of the material at hand give impetus to your thoughts? How do
you demonstrate a grasp of the text? How would you see the implications
in practice of what is being proposed? What consequences do you project
will come from your position?
In many law schools, the advice for legal briefs and essay exams is much the same: " Say what you're going to say, say it, say it again, say what you said, say 'that was great'."
The fundamental way to do well on essay exams is to prepare. Secondly, organize your work in a way that makes the exam simply writing an outline you prepare at the outset.
In most cases, you are warned of a given number of potential essay questions. You must choose whether you want to fully prepare for every question--or chance intensified preparation on a few questions. That is your call; one based on Sun Tzu's advice: Know your instructor.
You should at least prepare to the point that you have written an outline
for the questions you plan to attack. At best, write out the entire essay.
Feel comfortable enough with the material that you can easily explain it
to a colleague, and answer related questions. Few people do well with rote
memorization (which usually vaporizes). Moreover, your understanding and
the ability to apply that understanding is the key goal.
Theses and Research Papers
These are questions that might be helpful in preparing a research paper:
2) What form will best meet that purpose? a chronological presentation, narrative work, flashback, argumentation of positions?
3) What does your audience already know and what must they learn?
4) How will you go about collecting and analyzing your data?
5) Are your facts in order? Note-cards are easy to work with in this instance. Have you really surveyed the field?
6) Can you outline key topics and support your ideas?
7) Will a truly detailed outline, nearly paragraph by paragraph, give you a clearer view--or are you one who free-writes and revises?
8) Are your ideas really connected? Can you foresee easy transitions and stylistic ways to make them?
9) Once you have completed the first draft, what is extraneous? What bites the dust?
10) Now that you have cut, what must you rearrange?
11) Proofread for grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure.
12) Take another look at #1. Does your purpose control this paper? Does
it meet the assignment?
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources, either alphabetically or by subject area, that you have discovered along with a brief evaluative statement: what this text says, what it means, perhaps its historical location, the author's greater project, and its value to you as a researcher. You instructor will specify format.
Start making a brief annotation of every book you read, right now. Most
professors wish they did. Regardless of your assignments, the time spent
briefing a text, if it was worth reading to begin with, will be worth it
to you in the future. If you wish to be truly organized (perhaps anal retentive
is a better phrase), you can keep the annotations on notecards, thus providing
yourself with a wonderful reference source, and an easy way to refresh
your mind on books you read awhile ago.
A literature review is an essay with a central focus, a broad controlling
topic, that blends together a given number of books, journal articles,
Casenotes should be as clear and concise as possible, conveying your
impressions, observations, and suggestions at a quick glance. Accuracy
and an attempt at objectivity are crucial, for writing such as this could
have a direct influence on the future of an individual. Below are some
examples of things which may be included in casenotes used in rehabilitation.
Despite the light tone of the examples, please remember that creativity
is not suggested when writing casenotes.
Client: Hannibal L. Counselor: Sigmund F.
Session No.: 1 Date of Session: 1/15/93
Primary Intent of Interview: 1. Establish rapport; 2. Assess eligibility for services; and 3. Identify appropriate rehabilitation interventions, if necessary.
Description of Session Content:
Hannibal appears to be somewhat upset over the fact that he will be unable to again set up practice as a psychologist due to his conviction as a serial killer. However, he remained calm throughout the interview, and seems eager to begin a new job where he will have a taste of the freedom he has been lacking during his incarceration.
Hannibal, a former psychologist, was convicted of killing and consuming several of his patients. Before this turn of events, he had a thriving practice. He spent several years in jail, but there is some doubt as to whether or not he has been cured. He is searching for a job in a new line of work, and is willing to relocate.
Hannibal seems very calm and rational, and it is difficult to imagine that one of his hobbies is cannibalism. He may be suffering from an edible complex, and is probably orally fixated.
2. Schedule a second appointment with Hannibal to assess employment
Be sure to check with your professor about what exactly will be expected
of you before you write up casenotes.
Writing for Publication
There are no strict guidelines as far as this goes. Everything varies
according to the publication. The best advice I can give you is to know
who you are writing for. If you want to get published in a certain journal,
read it and determine the sort of subjects and styles the editors want.
Often, technical guidelines will be offered in the frontispiece of the
journal. It is critical that you conform to these guidelines! Busy editors
may not even consider articles that are not in their requested format,
regardless of content.
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