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No Doctorate Required

You know the old rule, “i before e, except after c?” If we consider words like reign, feign, and freight, that rule isn’t really that helpful. And what about the old five paragraph machine writing method? If you write an opening paragraph with a thesis, address the three thesis points in three paragraphs, and close restating your thesis, you should be golden, right? Not always. What about when you are writing a 15 page paper? What if you are writing a story or a personal essay? Are you going to explain your life in thesis points?

Writing is not a perfect science. There isn’t a rule or formula that will work for every writing assignment and you will not always remember all there is to know about grammar. Take that from an English major who will erase an entire sentence to avoid using one word.

The good news is that you don’t have to know every rule ever written to be able to write a good story, analysis, or research paper. Your professors don’t even fit this category of “know-it-alls” you may aspire to join. The difference between you and them (besides the aging that took place during the years in Doctorate programs) is that they have learned the skill of using tools and resources. But be encouraged. You simply need a topic that makes you curious, time to develop your thoughts, and the right tools for the task.

You know those grammar books that your professors insist you buy? I know you don’t want to spend the extra $6.95 for Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, but your professors didn’t put it in the syllabus to torture you; it really is an effective writing tool. You can have your grammar questions answered by simply flipping through the pages. No Google search through non-credible sources necessary.

Please also turn your attention to the anthologies you bought that are now being used as paperweights. Remember that reading is fundamental, and there is no better way to determine what works and what doesn’t, like seeing how other people succeeded or screwed up (in your expert opinion).

The only thing left to round out the tool box would be an idea. They won’t always be good ideas, but having one is imperative. And yes, you are capable of formulating original ideas. Students tend to forget that good ideas are not exclusive to the highly educated. Reality television stars figured it out, and so can you. 

Posted: 5/3/2014 by | with 2403 comment(s)

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