Welcome to the Active Voice Blog!

Active VoiceWelcome 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!

Welcome to a New Semester!


Whether you’re starting your first day of classes as a first-year student or you’re back for your final year (or a victory lap), we are so glad to have you here for a brand new semester!

We’re getting ready to open the center on Monday September 1, and we will have the new schedule posted soon.

In the meantime, why don’t you make yourself comfortable and getting better acquainted with the Writing Center:

- Visit our website and check out some frequently asked questions.

- Set up your WC Online account.

- Browse our blog, The Active Voice, and get a better sense of the things we find interesting and useful.

See you soon in ZSR 426!


Wednesday’s Word of the Week











agelast, n.

“A person who never laughs; one who has no sense of humour.”

“Although the student thought the elaborate excuse she made up was pretty hilarious, her professor was an agelast when the paper was three weeks late.”

“agelast, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 27 May 2014.

Writing into the Summer

6227748406_b4ab5319ddWith another school year behind us, and the warmth of summer around the corner, it’s easy to put down the pen and take a break from writing. But you worked so hard to fine tune your abilities this year. You visited the Writing Center, took advantage of office hours, and revised your papers. You really made strides in your writing this year!

Don’t lose that momentum!

Here’s a few ways to keep writing over summer break.

750 words a day is an online challenge that encourages folks to write 750 words a day, every day. Are you up for the challenge?

Remember when you were little and you scratched all your secrets in a notebook that you hid under your bed so your little sister didn’t find it? Journaling may look a little different now that you’re all grown up, but it’s still a great way to reflect on experiences, remember milestones, and process through the ups and downs of the day.

Search out ways online to share your creative prose and poems. Medium is a great place to find inspiration as well as share what’s on your mind.

Social media and emailing/texting with friends is a great way to keep writing over the summer. Pay special attention to grammar and word choice, even in your Facebook statuses, so you don’t get rusty over the summer.

Start a blog or a tumblr. Sharing your words with the world is a great way to try out new writing styles, and it feels great to get a comment (even if it is from your mom). Here’s a list of some great literary blogs.

It may be a fit old fashioned, but writing a letter to the editor or to your local representatives never goes out of style.

Create a petition for an issue you’re passionate about.

Here’s wishing a happy, safe, refreshing summer (and keep on writing!)

Wednesday’s Word of the Week











wabbit, adj.

“Tired out, exhausted; ‘off colour’.”

The wabbit student, after a week of finals, was ready for a week of naps.

“wabbit, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 7 May 2014.

Tuesday’s Tip: Writing to Read

ReadingClubToday’s tip comes from Professor T.H.M. Gellar-Goad (@thmggphd) in the Department of Classical Languages.

In many disciplines, like the analysis and criticism of ancient Greek and Roman literature in the field of Classics, writing isn’t just a product to show what you think — it’s also a tool to figure out what you think.  The poetry and prose of the ancient Mediterranean world is wondrously complicated, and so reading these texts needs to be a much more active process than plowing through your average Tumblr or the latest installment of Game of Thrones.  Here’s two writing techniques to help sharpen your reading of literature.

First is the “3-2-1″ method, which alums of my Greek Myth class here at Wake Forest University will tell you is really helpful or really annoying (or both).  As you read a text, you’re asking yourself to identify and write down a few types of things: 3 interesting notes or new pieces of information you are learning, 2 points about the topic that are still unclear at the end of the reading, and 1 question you’d like to ask the author.  It’s a proven method that helps you think critically about what you’re reading — it helps you make that process active, as you dig deeper into the meanings and focus of what you’re reading.

Second is close reading, a time-honored tool for literary analysis.  Known in one format as a “commentary,” close reading is reading closely, paying detailed attention to every word and every line of the poem or other text you’re reading.  The earliest literary scholarship in the Western world consists of close readings or “scholia” of famous texts like Homer’sIliad and Odyssey.  To do a close reading, simply take a copy of what you’re going to read — preferably one printed out with large margin sizes and double spacing — and write down marginal and inter-line notes about every connection and observation you can make about each word, phrase, line, and passage.  Ask questions of the text, rich questions like “why?” and “how?” (more sample questions here).  Look for patterns, literary devices like metaphor and simile, artful phrasing and description, and wider implications or symbolism.  (Here‘s a five-stage model for close reading complete with guiding questions; here‘s a video example of a close reading of Dr. Seuss.)  Once your paper is covered in your notes and scribbles and connections, you can use that as the raw material for a formally-written analysis of the text or passage!

Take a Break!


We don’t have to tell you that studying for exams is hard work. But did you know that you should be taking study breaks? According to a recent article in the New York Times,  “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” You should be taking a 10 minute break for every 40-90 minutes spent working.

So, you’re in the library, working hard, and need a quick break. What’s a Deacon to do?

- Allow yourself a few minutes of free internet time (pending you haven’t already been on Facebook the entire time you’ve been studying). A few minutes spent looking at cute cats may be the ticket to finishing the last page of your paper. And if you’re done with your tech study break, here’s some great tips on avoiding techno distraction to get your studying back on track.
- Check out Wake the Library. Our friends at ZSR have awesome things planned to help you through finals. Visit the relaxation station, fuel up on snacks, even do some yoga.
- Get a snack, but make sure it’s the right snack. Fruits are some of the best foods you can eat during finals. And make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Get moving! Take a walk, visit the gym, go for a run. And if you don’t want to loose your precious spot in ZSR, stand and do a few stretches, or have a friend watch your laptop while you take a quick stroll through the stacks.

And if you need a break from writing to get some help with a paper, visit us in the Writing Center. We still have a few appointments available!

Friday Flashback


Well here we are, another finals week. Best of luck on your final exams, papers, and projects, and make sure to come to the Writing Center if you need help!

Here’s a look back at our week on the blog.
- Monday we posted instructions for our finals week appointment schedule.
- On Tuesday we shared a great tip from Zak Lancaster on writer’s block.
- We shared a relevant word on Wednesday.
- And Thursday we got a bit silly with our favorite finals-themed memes

Good luck!