Guitar Strings and Clanging of the Keyboard
Beginning a paper may seem like a daunting task as I sit in the Union with my hot chocolate next to me, staring at a blank page on my laptop screen. Stress and anxiety begin to run from the top of my head to the tips of my feet, covering my whole body. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, plugging my headphones into my computer. Immediately, I turn on Simon & Garfunkel on Spotify, listening to “The Sound of Silence”, “Mrs. Robinson”, and then “The Boxer” while I plan out my paper. I am not sure why I am able to focus to Simon & Garfunkel and why I connect with their songs more than others, but I assume it is because their music is light and calming. They strum the guitar softly and sing tenderly.
As I listen, my mind begins to focus on the task at hand. I read the essay prompt and spend a few minutes thinking about how I am going to approach the prompt. I jot down my ideas with a pen in a notebook about what I want to argue and then draft a thesis statement. This process takes about 20 minutes to finish. I break up my ideas into paragraphs that will support the thesis by writing on the paper “Paragraph 1: ___, Paragraph 2: ____, Paragraph 3: _____”.
Next, I gather quotations that support each paragraph and mini argument. Before I begin typing the paper, I typically visit the GSI or Professor that will be grading my paper to discuss my ideas, show him or her my outline, and ask if I am on the right track. I also ask any other questions I may have. I find it extremely helpful talking out loud to a professional about my ideas and receiving feedback so that I can start my paper more confidently.
With feedback and the revised outline, I type all of the quotations as evidence and support on a Google document as my first typing step. After, I type the paper as fast as my fingers can move, getting out all of my ideas and plan without stopping for grammar or changing sentences. I cut and paste the quotations I typed when needed for evidence to support.
Once the rough draft is finished, I spend a lot of time editing the piece, changing what I feel I need to, whether it be changing sentence structure or using different evidence to support my argument. Once the piece is edited I re-read it multiple times, making even more edits. Lastly, the morning the paper is due, I read through it again a few times to double check one last time that there are not errors in the paper and everything flows smoothly. I print it and hand it in, praying to the high heavens that I will do well on it.