Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bill Evans on the Creative Process

Do you ever find yourself writing vaguely about a topic because you haven't quite grasped it yet? In the below video, Bill Evans touches on the importance of first building a strong foundation in the creative process. Once you have the essential ideas down, you can then begin to make the material your own.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Don't do Citations; Let Microsoft!

 You do not have to format your citations or your bibliography, Microsoft or any number of other programs will do it for you. Whenever I talk to students about the challenges of writing academic papers, the topic of citations is sure to come up. Students will tell me about the time spent trying to get the formatting correct or about running out of time to do so and losing credit because their citations are a mess. Even worse is when students give up, leave out citations and risk plagiarizing.

Citations are important. They let your readers know who you are putting your ideas in conversation with. They establish that you are a credible writer, someone worth paying attention to. Because you have taken the time to consider what others have to say about your topic, readers know that you are not just spouting off whatever comes into your head in the moment.

The consistent formatting of citations is a courtesy that you do for your readers and a way for you to signal that you can be trusted because you know the rules of the game. When you use MLA or APA style, readers appreciate not having to spend time decoding your citation. And just as you would not wear shorts and flip flops to an interview for an office job, you can dress your paper for success by giving it the equivalent of an "interview suit": a title page or header with your name, course, assignment and date; a title; 12-point, double-spaced font; a basic font like Times or Ariel; and correctly formatted citations.

However, getting the commas in the right place is not the best use of your time. Instead, spend your time thinking about what you know and what you want to know (for brainstorming strategies, see http://snl.depaul.edu/writing/inventing.html). Spend time finding sources that are credible (for guidance on evaluating sources, see http://snl.depaul.edu/writing/Writing%20Help.html#helpsource) and that help you think through the ideas for your paper. Spend time integrating these sources into your paper (for one way to do this, see http://www.csun.edu/~hflrc006/quote.html). 
As the videos below indicate, you can use Microsoft Word to format your citations and bibliography. The nice thing about this tool is that when you enter the information for a source once, you do not have to enter it again when you are working on a new paper. Similarly, Zotero is a free web-based tool. To learn more about it, see http://libguides.depaul.edu/zotero

So, let the computer do the busywork of putting the commas in the right place and use your time for the much more interesting (and challenging) work of exploring and communiating your thinking.

Craft of Composing Panel Discussion

On October 24th, SNL Writing hosted a panel discussion with 5 writers from different genres about their writing process titled, "The Craft of Composing".

The panelists included:

Michelle Navarre Cleary, SNL Writing Coordinator and Professor (academic writing)
Penny Pollack, SNL Alumnus and dining editor of Chicago Magazine (journalism)
Rita Leganski, SNL Alumnus and Novelist (novel writing)
Ann Stanford, SNL Professor and Author (scholarly articles, poetry)
Rochelle George Wooding, Neighborhood Writing Alliance member (personal narrative)

Three items that each panelist touched upon were

1) The importance of community
Writing is meant to be shared and written for a specific audience. 

2) Revision
Write first, edit later. Even if you need to make significant cuts later on, you may be able to use that writing elsewhere.

3) Presence of panic
Deadlines can be stressful, and so can negative critiques of your work. Remember that practice makes perfect; you will find your voice the more you write.

To listen to the full discussion, please visit:


Monday, October 22, 2012

New WRD Course for International Grad Students

Are you an International Graduate Student?

On Tuesday evenings (6:00-9:15) in Winter Quarter, Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse will offer WRD 587, Academic Writing for International Graduate Students.  The course is specifically for international students who write English as a second language.  While the course will address features of grammar and style, it is not intended as a remedial writing course, but as an opportunity for students to self-consciously identify and practice Western academic writing competencies through an analysis of genres in their own disciplines.  Such an approach can lead to improved general competency in written English when supported by content-area instructors and augmented by visits to the University Writing Center.  

The course will be taught by Dr Jason Schneider.  Dr Schneider holds a PhD in English with a specialization in rhetoric and composition, and an MA in Applied Linguistics, for which he wrote a thesis on ESL pedagogy. Professor Schneider has taught Intensive English here in the US, and he's taught English as a second language at the International Language Institute in Cairo, Egypt, and at the International House Language School in Krakow, Poland.  Dr Schneider teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in WRD as a full-time faculty member. For more information, contact jschne12@depaul.edu or 773.325.3727.   


Friday, October 19, 2012

We're on our way...

SNL students, faculty, staff, and alumni have been busy writing as part of the SNL Month of Writing Challenge this week! Let's keep the temperature rising...writing is hot!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upcoming Chicagoland Writing Events

October 20th is the National Day on Writing! To celebrate, consider attending one of these upcoming local writing events…

On October 16th at 6:00pm, the DePaul President's Signature Series is hosting a talk with author Hector Tobar, "Latino Identity, American Identity, Artistic Voice: A Writer's Journey, A Community's Journey." It will be held at the DePaul University Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. Room No. 314 A & B. RSVP to clr@depaul.edu.
The University Center for Writing-based Learning will be hosting an event titled, “Aloud! A public Reading of Non-fiction, Fiction, Essays, and Poetry” on Thursday, October 18th from 4 - 5:30pm, 2nd floor of Lincoln Park Student Center.
Haymarket Pub and Brewery is hosting The Drinking & Writing Festival 2012 on October 20th. Theme is “The Beats.” Visit: www.drinkingandwriting.com.
Chicago Writing Association’s affiliate, In Print, hosts its 2nd Annual Book fair at Barnes & Noble Cherry Valley Mall on October 20th. Visit: http://www.chicagowrites.org/events.aspx?eventid=71
The SNL Month of Writing presents “The Craft of Composing: A Panel of Writers Discuss the Writing Process” on October 24th from 6- 7:30pm at 14 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Il 60604 – Room 1328. For more information, email: snlwriting@depaul.edu.
The Chicago Humanities Festival has many talks with authors and a competitive reading series. Dates are Oct. 21st and Nov. 1-11th. Visit: http://www.chicagohumanities.org/Genres/Literature.aspx.

Join a Neighborhood Writing Alliance Group. Visit: http://www.jot.org/locations.php

Friday, October 12, 2012

SNL Month of Writing Challenge is Underway!

Today, October 12th, is the final day to sign up for the SNL Month of Writing Challenge (email: snlwriting@depaul.edu). You can set your personal goal to be either higher or lower than 50,000 words - just make sure you spend time each week to improve your writing practice. The sentiment of the challenge is quantity over quality; first produce words and go back to edit them later. Author Simon Rich phrases the challenge's sentiment well in the New York Times Magazine piece, "Great Moments in Inspiration":

Simon Rich Author/Comedy Writer, “Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories”
“I’ve always been an obsessive New York Knicks fan, and John Starks is the closest thing to a messianic figure that I’ve ever known. It’s hard to overstate it, how much I loved watching him play. Starks set the Knicks record for most career 3-pointers and most career 3-point attempts, and the lesson I took from him is that if you shoot enough 3’s, some will eventually somehow go in. I’ve always been a quantity-over-quality kind of guy. I’ve thrown out a few terrible novels, I’ve thrown out two whole collections of short stories, I have hundreds of comedy pieces that are terrible that will never see the light of day. My feeling is I can’t really control how talented I am, but I can control how many hours I work and how many things I write.”
For helpful information about the writing challenge, please visit:
Happy Writing!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debate Bingo

The University of Denver Writing program created the below bingo card to help viewers track the candidates' use of rhetorical strategies, logical fallacies, and predictable talking points. The vice presidential debate is tonight, October 11th at 8pm CST. The next two presidential debates are Tuesday, October 16th and Monday, October 22nd at 8pm CST.