WIC Survival Guide Chapter 2: Where to Begin
I Have A Written Assignment Due... Where Should I Start?
- Read the assignment. Look for key words that identify the task. Ask for help if you don’t understand what is expected.
- Understand what kind of document you are creating:
- Is it a memo, a research paper, a different assignment type?
- What are the characteristics and parts of this kind of document?
- Is active voice or passive voice more appropriate?
- Should you use bullets and sub-headings?
- Will you need an appendix with tables?
- Be sure that the tone of the assignment reflects your audience. (Your audience isn’t always your instructor - it may be a client, other professionals, etc.)
- Understand the scope of the assignment (How should you limit your topic? How many pages? Do you need to do research? - check out the library's discipline research guides)
- Different people approach writing in different ways. If you know how you work best, you can save time:
If you think and plan before you write. By the time you’re writing, you have a pretty clear idea of what you’re going to say.
TIP: Make sure to schedule plenty of thinking time and then freewrite the ideas you've developed.
If you start by writing. Your first draft is very rough, but you will re-think and revise.
TIP: Make sure to schedule plenty of time for revisions.
You think and write alternately. You start with a plan, but the process of writing stimulates more thought.
TIP: Make sure to schedule an adequate amount of time for thinking and writing.
- If You’re Stuck: Try some pre-writing or brainstorming exercises!
- Free write – write without stopping for 5 to 10 minutes about what you already know about the assignment topic. Let your ideas flow without worrying about structure or organization.
- Jot down a list of related terms or ideas
- Create an outline
- Do some concept mapping
- If your assignment has specified sections, be sure to include each section in your paper. Also double check that all required parts of each section have been addressed.