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Improve writing one step at a time

Each semester, communication faculty, with experience in professional writing, teach students about various writing techniques.

Stephen Henderson, a communication professor, presented the first writing workshop on Oct. 6, where he taught students about editing.

“Teaching the workshops has helped me realize what matters most in writing, as well as how I can effectively communicate those ideas to students,” Henderson said. “I try to ask myself what I wish I would have learned about writing before graduation, and that helps guide the lecture.”

Henderson wishes that early on in his writing career, someone would have explained to him how to better edit his own writing. In his workshop, he taught that using a more systematic approach to editing helps take the anxiety out of the process.

Henderson suggested using what he calls a “four-draft editing process” for editing writing. Reread a piece of writing four times all the way through and focus on different techniques each time.

Stephen Henderson's Four-Draft Editing Process he suggests using when editing pieces of writing.
Stephen Henderson's Four-Draft Editing Process he suggests using when editing pieces of writing. Photo credit: Taylor Sexton

Laurene Jackson, a communication professor, presented the second workshop on Thursday, Oct. 22. She talked about how reading is related to writing.

She explained that reading and writing are parallel processes that are dependent on one another. Students can strengthen their writing skills by reading other examples of strong writing.

Jackson also stated that confusion is awesome for writers.

“It creates that dissonance that increases your understanding so you go deeper and find out more,” Jackson said. “Being confused about something is a good thing because then you are forced to ask those questions.”

Lane Williams, a communication professor, presented the final workshop on Nov. 19 at 11:30 a.m. He spoke about how students can master the art of showing instead of telling in their writing.

“My particular presentation talks about a principle I learned along the way that takes writing from interesting to compelling,” Williams said. “It’s the power of being specific.”

Last semester, the workshops were taught on Zoom while the campus was shut down due to COVID-19.

“After COVID, we’ll go back to live presentations, but we believe the virtual ones have been very successful, and you’ll find them interesting and engaging,” Williams said.

Although these workshops are presented by the Communication Department, students in any major are invited to join and learn from the writing professionals next semester.

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