The Fall 2015 motto for the Writing in History program is “early and often.” Dr. Weimer and I picked this phrase because it serves as a shorthand reminder that writing is a process that takes both time and revision. We have all pulled that allnighter where we write a paper just before the deadline, perhaps even scraping by with a good grade. To reach your full writing potential, however, you need to move beyond procrastination and start practicing “early and often.”
Start writing early. Whether it is a small weekly assignment or a term paper, get words on the page as soon as possible. Ideas take time to form, and the clear articulation of those thoughts takes even longer. A good cup of coffee takes time to percolate, and so does your brain. Once you have something down, you must then edit it frequently. This is where often comes in. Well-written paragraphs do not flow straight out of the brain to the page, they need revision. You should read and edit your work. Reading it out loud, for example, can help you find wording that just does not sound right. You can also exchange papers with a friend and ask them to assess your work honestly. To have time for various types of revision, you need to start early. “Early and often” are linked.
For the Writing in History program, “early and often” also takes on a second meaning. Our history writing tutors are available to assist students taking history classes at FIU. To make the most of this resource, it is vital to be “early and often.” Make your first appointment early, soon after the assignment is announced. This action will give you the motivation to prepare something for the tutoring meeting. Remember, the more complete your thoughts and writings, the greater the feedback and help you will get from the tutors. You can also meet with the tutors several times, often if you will. A couple of meetings with the writing tutors will help you with revise as you move through the stages of paper writing.
To set up an appointment to see one of the history writing tutors please visit our website.
Best, Dr. Ferdinando