Welcome to the Active Voice Blog, the official blog of the Wake Forest University Writing Center. You can find all the information you need about the Center around our main site, but this space is reserved for students, faculty, and staff to share perspectives on writing practices and processes. We hope you’ll find something here that speaks to you!
“My time at the writing center has really shaped how I view myself as a writer, and writing in general. Everyone needs to learn how to write well–it doesn’t matter if you’re going into business, science, literature, or something else, being able to clearly express your thoughts to others is a necessity in every field. I came to realize this after encountering numerous students who would, after reading through a paper with me, shrug and say something like, “I’m going into _______ field, so I won’t need writing after this divisional English/First Year Seminar is over.” I wonder where this rumor, that writing is only needed as a correlate to studies that involve reading literature, began? Resumes, job applications, and company memos all require writing, as do scientific research papers. One of the reasons why I love writing is because it is such a flexible skill–you can literally use it for anything. As my senior year comes to a close, I cherish my time tutoring in the writing center because it taught me how valuable writing can be, and how important it is to write well, no matter where you are going in life. Although I am an English major, I am most likely not going to pursue any higher degrees in English studies. However, I know that whatever my future brings, being able to put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop keys) and write with eloquence and clarity will help me along the way.” -Catherine
“A great flood or overflowing of water, a destructive inundation. (Often used hyperbolically, e.g. of a heavy fall of rain.)”
“He was facing a deluge of assignments and was starting to feel overwhelmed. There’s less than a month left of the semester!”
“deluge, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 15 April 2015.
A little humor to start your Tuesday!
Good writing is not reserved for the English classroom these days. According to a recent article in Time, the business world is starting to pay more attention to the writing skills of their current (and potential) employees. “Consider a recent Grammarly study of 100 LinkedIn profiles. In the same 10-year period, professionals who received one to four promotions made 45 percent more grammatical errors than did professionals who were promoted six to nine times.” Did you know that our new Interdisciplinary Writing Minor is perfect for students who want to further develop their writing skills to use in a variety of fields and professions?
A bit more from the article – great tips for business and beyond.
10 Tips for Better Business Writing
1. Get to the point. Avoid phrases such as “The purpose of this report that I am submitting today is …”
2. Replace passive “to be” verbs with lively, active words.
3. Provide concrete, compelling examples to back up your statements.
4. Use an organized story structure with a logical beginning, middle and end.
5. Don’t let your sentences go on forever. Hint: lots of commas are a sign of trouble.
6. Understand your reading audience. Peers, stakeholders and top execs each require a different tone and approach.
7. Leave time for revisions. Always read a document thoroughly, and then set it aside. Read it again the next day, and then make any necessary adjustments.
8. Don’t go crazy with fonts, boldface and italics. Your documents should be inviting and easy to read.
9. And don’t go crazy with capitalization. For example, capitalize the proper name of a company, but not a reference to “our company.”
10. Shoot for relaxed authenticity. For example, a judicious use of self-deprecating humor can help engage the audience.
“To defer until the day after tomorrow; to postpone for a day.”
“She decided that playing frisbee on the quad was more fun than finishing her paper, so she decided to perendinate her assignment until tomorrow.”
“perendinate, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 8 April 2015.
Yesterday we shared a winning poem from our tutor Bailey. Today we are sharing the 2nd place poem from another tutor, Alex M!
“Last year, my undergraduate university inaugurated a new president. As part of the week-long celebration of the event, I was asked (along with one of my peers and some of my professors) to write a poem on the theme of “celebration” and read the finished product at a special poetry reading. I was both excited and daunted by the task, but this is the poem that I came up with. I wanted to write something that looked at the more subtle aspects of celebration, poetry as celebration, and language as a creative force. The poem eventually became a meditation on Emily Dickinson’s well-known poem “The Brain–is wider than the Sky–“, which also traces the distinction between poetry as a subtle art and an immense potentiality. Although I was initially happy with the poem I wrote last year, I revised the final lines before submitting it to the contest, and I’m much happier with what the poem is now.”
Over 120 poems were submitted to the third annual Wake Up to Poetry contest. One of those poets, and honorable mention winner, is our own tutor Bailey! Congratulations Bailey!
For your reading pleasure, here is Bailey poem, Following Orange, and a note from Bailey on her process of writing it.
“It’s experimental in terms of form, and I also used a procedure for writing it–psychogeography, which entails reacting to surroundings, usually cities (in this case, walking up and down Fourth Street), in a way that contradicts usual walking patterns and habits. The thought process behind writing this poem was to choose something like a pattern, color (orange), or sound and “follow” it while walking. In my creative projects, I always keep this in mind while writing and observing.”
Think writing is only important for folks going into English? Think again.
An increasing number of professors in the sciences are realizing the importance of teaching budding biologists, physicists, and chemists how to write. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, “Science requires an increasingly large amount of writing, whether researchers do it through articles for the popular media or grant proposals and research papers. Given the highly technical subject matter, scientists need special guidance when it comes to writing for a non-expert audience…
“Even though most of their efforts may seem to be concentrated in the lab, scientists spend a lot of time writing. “Scientists need to know how to write to get their work published and get grants—it’s an important skill that people assume they already have [once they reach a certain level], so no one ever teaches them how to write well in these specific formats,” said Kristin Sainani, a health policy professor at Stanford University who teaches both undergraduate and online courses about writing in the sciences.
So what do you think? Is it important to learn to write in your specific discipline?