Mary Paplham

Sophomore, Consultant since Spring, 2015

Advice for writers 
As you write, keep asking yourself, "so what?" -- Why is this point important? Why is this evidence necessary to prove my claim? What does it add to my argument? Don't move on from explaining a piece of evidence until you are sure you've explained why it matters to your present argument and your larger claim; that way, you'll know you've made your point, and your reader won't be the one asking, "so what?"

How do you get started on a writing assignment?
My writing process starts long before I even sit down to write. The moment I get an assignment, I open myself up to thinking about it; even as much as I'd like to sometimes, I don't let myself avoid it. Until I have a chance to sit down and start properly thinking out my paper, I let ideas roll around in my head, even and especially when I'm doing mindless tasks. If anything sparks, I jot it down, whether in the margins of my notebook or on a scrap of paper or a sticky note on my computer dashboard. When I'm ready and have time to actually sit down and start planning, I collect all of my notes and start penning them on a blank page, leaving space at the top for uncategorized thoughts and a few lines for my claim, while organizing all of my ideas and possible evidence into categories of sub-claims. It may be messy and I may change my mind on a lot of it later, but by having mulled it over already, I've immersed myself in my subject and have plenty of ideas to work off of.