Thursday, July 5, 2012

SNL Writing Showcase winner, Kristine Shultz, discusses her writing process

SNL student Kristine Shultz, was one of this year's winners of the annual SNL Writing Showcase. SNL Writing invited her to guest blog about some of her “aha moments,” struggles, and tips and tricks for writing at SNL below.

As could be expected, I refined my process of writing as I progressed through my classes at DePaul. For my purposes, I separate writing methods and products into two categories: Narrative and Academic. In either method I use the technology available to my best advantage. Search, language options, and cut/paste functions are my best friends and I use them liberally. In stark contrast to the technology available at the stroke of a key or click of a mouse, it never fails to amaze me that the structural rules I learned writing fourth grade themes form the solid basis for all my writing.

When writing a narrative piece I find myself working in a free form style, jotting notes on scraps of paper for future development, creating outlines to be revised and filled in. Because narrative writing draws almost exclusively from my imagination and memory, I find that I hop from one thought to another and back again. I can often compose a piece from start to finish in one sitting but have embraced the value of re-reading it the next day with a fresh eye. The process of gathering the bits of my narrative has a dream like quality. The process of knitting these pieces together into smooth coherence requires careful editing, ordering and transitions. My process for writing academic papers incorporates all the elements of narrative writing with the very important addition of using a spreadsheet.

Early in my experience at DePaul, my academic writing skills took a huge leap in Applied Research. I read about and employed an extremely valuable method using excel spreadsheets to record concepts and quotes as I read journal articles. I recorded all pertinent information: title, author, page number, etc. and created citations for each source. As I moved through my outline, I replaced the tedious and time consuming method of paging through hard copies of articles for highlights or margin notes by electronically searching my file for a concept or key word. At this point, my academic writing was far more easily done, my citations were more accurately documented and creating my source page was reduced to a minute’s long process of copying, pasting and sorting alphabetically. I cannot recommend this method enthusiastically enough.

 If I am limited to offering only one suggestion to undergrads regarding writing, it is to avoid turning in assignments at 2:00 a.m. no matter how confident you are in your final product. The few hours between your completion and when you awaken the following day all too often reveal errors in grammar, obvious duplications or worse. Like many undergrads, I learned this lesson the hard way.

When I attended my first information session in Naperville to learn about the DePaul School for New Learning, I vividly recall the session leader declaring “This is a writing intensive program”. I also recall my reaction. I steeled myself and thought “…well, if that’s what it takes I’ll take my best swing”. Although I was intimidated, I saw it as a challenge to be faced with strength and tenacity. I dare say I met this challenge and emerged the victor.

To read Kristine's winning showcase entry, please visit: http://www.snl.depaul.edu/writing/SchultzEnd.pdf.

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