4 Things YOU SHOULD KNOW to Write Successfully

As I mentioned in my earlier post, “A Brief History of Myself as a Writer,” I did not consider myself an experienced writer. Even after writing in different genres for my writing class this past quarter, I still don’t think I’m a very experienced writer. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just think that I’m beginning to exercise my writing muscles and am building confidence to get to that point of saying confidently, “I’m an experienced writer.” From my brief time writing for the web, I’ve discovered some useful tips I think everyone who’s looking to improve their writing should know (whether it be for college, business, or even for the web).

Here are four things you should know to write successfully:

1. Know your genres (because they exist!)

Certain styles of writing are appropriate for some and not for others. Take, for example, the sample writings given below:

  1. Once upon a time, there was a boy learning how to write in school. He was told by many of his teachers in time’s past to follow a five-paragraph format in all academic discourse.
  2. THIS JUST IN—what was taught earlier in schools proves to be false later in collegiate writing! #schoolproblems #icantwrite
  3. There has been research done showing that the majority of writing done in college does not follow the five-paragraph format. Furthermore, according to Joe et. al, there seems to be a necessary understanding of various genres in academic writing. Writing in one way does not necessarily apply to all manners of discourse.

Narrative writing (sample #1) may be appropriate for a creative writing course, but not for a research-based course (sample #3), and research-based writing would not necessarily be appropriate for twitter discourse (sample #2).

2. Know your readers (because they exist!)

Imagine your audience, and learn how to appeal to them! As I am writing in a manner that is suitable for blogging, so should you for academic, personal, or narrative purposes! Here’s a short lesson on blogging online. Include a link to buzzfeed in your post and you’re done! I know my readers. They love buzzfeed. So, here you go! You’re welcome. Jesting aside, know your readers.

3. Writing does not need to follow a formula (like the 5 paragraph essay/Jane Schaffer paragraph)

Once you enter college, you’ll find this out in most of your classes that require you to write, and once you find out you might be a bit upset about all those 5 paragraph essays you had to write in high school. (But don’t sink into a hole of despair! Writing is writing, and the more practice you get in different styles, the better repertoire you’ll have to work with in the future as you venture into different means of writing.)

4. There are tools to help you stylize your writing (in the form of tropes and schemes)

Tropes include metaphors, metonymies, synecdoches, irony, puns, hyperboles, litotes, and many more. This all sounds like gibberish and something that you probably vaguely remember hearing about in school, but trust me. They help organize all those different ways of writing you didn’t have a label for and gives you a better framework for expressing what you want to say.

Some examples:

Metonymy: Substituting one thing with a closely associated thing
Cal Poly Pomona decides to give all students free education.

Synechdoche: Substituting a part for a whole
May I have a glass of bubbly?

Litotes: Intentional understatements
-(After receiving the nobel prize) I contributed a little.

Schemes include antitheses, asyndetons, anaphoras, etc. These help with syntactical variation (or different sentence phrasings)

Happy Writing!

Happy Writing!

Some examples:

Antithesis: Contrasting items set side by side
-“Patience is bitter, but it has sweet fruit.”—Aristotle

Asyndeton: Ellipsis that omits connecting words
I sat, I wrote, I slept.

Anaphora: Repeating items at the beginning of a series of sentences
Writing is fun. Writing will help you. Writing never quits.

 

 

Ghostwriting: Disputed Authorship in Hip Hop

ghostwriterGhostwriting is a controversial and common service offered to celebrities. Having a ghostwriter write your books, musical pieces, and even keep up to date on personal blogs happens all too often without the public knowing that what they’re reading about or listening to isn’t actually penned by the name of the author on that work. That’s what ghostwriting is. It’s paying someone who’s willing to write your biography for you and then slapping your name on the final product as if you wrote it, without giving acknowledgement to the actual writer. It’s essentially passing off someone else’s work as your own—but that’s too critical to say. Instead of stating it loudly for everyone to hear the truth, these ghostwriters quietly write away, emulating their clients’ “voices,” if they even had voices to begin with, and continue on writing as ghosts (unseen and unheard of) for one person, then another, and then another.

ghostwritingThis service of writing material for others often occurs in popular music. Actually, much of the music we listen to today, especially those by new artists, is ghostwritten. Often times, when a new and inexperienced artist enters the music game, the record company hires an experienced songwriter to help write lyrics, melodies, and basically compose tracks for the new singer. The ghostwriter would be paid, the artist would gain fame, and the record company would gain even more credit for popular hits. (It’s interesting to note here that it seems that the fame and riches gained could all originate from ghostwriters and the talent vested within them.)

The hip-hop industry is no stranger to ghostwriters. In fact, there are plenty of big name ghostwriters who have helped pen lyrics and rhymes for even bigger name artists. While investigating these works, I was surprised to find so many popular hits of the late 90s having possibly been ghostwritten.

willsmithOne such hit is Will Smith’s Grammy-award winning 1998 single, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Prior to putting out this album, Will Smith had already proven himself as a musical artist (a rapper, to be specific) before he became an A-list blockbuster making Hollywood star (think Independence Day, Men in Black, I Am Legend, etc.). He was part of the rap duo group called “DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince,” which produced popular hits in the late 80s/early 90s. Since that time, Will ventured out into acting, playing the star of the 90s sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It wasn’t until later into the 90s when he picked up his musical career again, this time as a solo artist. It was with his “Big Willie Style” album that he produced the popular hit, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” So with much experience in music in the past and much recognition given to him in his acting talents, it was surprising to find that there are strong speculations that this track was ghostwritten, and written by another well-known rapper as well—Nas. Earlier it was mentioned that some new artists might have been forced by record companies to accept ghostwriting unwillingly. It didn’t make sense that an established artist would have another (some would say) just as respected artist write material for him. However, the thought that Will Smith had not released anything of a musical nature on his own since the early 90s, it made sense that he could have probably talked with some of his friends in the hip-hop industry for some guidance, which lead to a possible hiring of a ghostwriter.

A rhetorical and stylistic analysis will now be employed to examine a few stanzas from “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” with a few stanzas from a popular single of Nas’s in the same time period, “Nas Is Like.”

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It

No love for the haters, the haters

Mad cause I got floor seats at the Lakers

See me on the fifty yard line with the Raiders

Met Ali he told me I’m the greatest

 

In Will Smith’s song, the character he projects himself to be to his audience is one who is “hated” or envied. In these few verses, he mentions having no love for people who “hate” on him, which translates to people who are envying him for the things he has, like “floor seat” tickets for the Los Angeles Lakers Basketball games, or tickets for the Oakland Raiders that would allow him to be at the fifty yard line, in the middle of the action. He also seeks to exalt himself by stating a close to hyperbolic statement, that Muhammad Ali, who is also known as “The World’s Greatest” in boxing, told him that he is actually the greatest.

 

Nas Is Like

“Nas is like..” Earth Wind & Fire, rims and tires

Bulletproof glass, inside is the realest driver

Planets in orbit, line em up with the stars

Tarot cards, you can see the pharaoh Nas

 

Musically, I sought to find a song that is similar in the upbeat sound patterns as “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” This single of Nas’s is close to that style. The ethos Nascreated in these few lines also demonstrates the same sense of conceit as the previous song. In these lines, Nas compares himself to a highly successful musical group from the 70s, glass that cannot be broken by bullets (which conveys invulnerability), and even as being a pharaoh, or king. These similes Nas chooses to use help create a sense in the listener that who they’re listening to is one who is great, similar to how Will Smith “described himself” to be in the previous song.

Based on these few stanzas, speculations that Nas could have helped write Will Smith’s Grammy Award winning single for him (interesting fact: Nas has never earned a Grammy Award, which is the most prestigious award offered in the music industry, for any of his musical pieces) is supported.

drdreOther cases of ghostwriting involve hip hop artists, Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. When the musical genre of “gangsta rap” became more popular towards the late 80s and early 90s, Dr. Dre was one of the main rappers headlining and representing the west coast of the United States of America. On the other coast, the east coast, there was Jay-Z. “Gangsta rap” can actually be divided into subgenres of “west coast rap” and “east coast rap.” Stylistically, the music would sound similar, however the lyrical content involved would showcase the differences. For an east coast perspective of what life was in that region, one would listen to east coast artists, like Jay Z, P. Diddy, Nas, etc. For a west coast perspective, one would listen to west coast artists, like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion, as he now refers to himself), 2-pac, etc. What is interesting is that it has been speculated that Jay-Z, an east coast rapper, wrote a number of tracks for Dr. Dre, a west coast rapper, for his 1999 album, “The Chronic 2001.” One of the singles is Still D.R.E., which is quite popular and well known to listeners of hip-hop and rap (I’m familiar with rap and was surprised to have researched and found this online).

A rhetorical and stylistic analysis of a few stanzas will now be done to look at how Jay-Z’s music during the same time period compares with the aforementioned tracks that Dr. Dre supposedly had him ghostwrite.

Still D.R.E. (Dr. Dre)

I’m still at it, After-mathematic

In the home of drivebys and ak-matics

Swap meets, sticky green, and bad traffic

I dip through then I get skin, D-R-E

 

Periphrastically (a trope used when one substitutes a descriptive word or phrase for a proper noun), “drive bys” is a phrase substituted for “killings,” “ak-matics” is a phrase substituted for “guns,” and “sticky green” is a phrase substituted for “weed” (I had to look that last one up.). In these few lines, Dr. Dre is described to be still part of his “After Math” record label, still in the home where people are killed by drive by shootings, where people meet on Saturdays for swap meets, where weed can be found, and where traffic is not very good. These few lines describes his current situation at the moment. Ghostwriters are known to emulate the client’s perspective. To be able to use these “west coast” nuances, Jay-Z would have had to understand and study the background of Dr. Dre.

Big Pimpin’ (Jay-Z)

We doin.. big pimpin, we spendin cheese

Check em out now

Big pimpin, on B.L.A.D.’s

We doin.. big pimpin up in N.Y.C.

 

JayZThis is one of Jay-Z’s well known songs that was released the following year. As Dr. Dre was described in his lyrics within the context of his living circumstances and environment, Jay-Z also does the same in these few lines, describing how he lives in New York, the east coast. There’s another usage of the periphrastic trope in the first line. “Cheese” is substituted for “cash.” An anaphoric scheme (in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences) can also be observed by the repetition of “We doin.” This repetition also appears in the latter verses. It was not noted before, but in the lyrics of Still D.R.E., there is also anaphoric usage of the repetitive use of the phrase “I’m still.” Examining the lyrics and seeing the main stylistic devices used (periphrasis and anaphora), one can observe that Jay-Z could have likely ghostwritten Dr. Dre’s single.

It is worth noting that deducing the originator of a musical piece can be a bit more difficult solely using rhetorical devices as a basis for comparison, as much of its style should be examined and investigated aurally (how the musical pieces sound and what kind of instruments or rhythms are observed). Nonetheless, ghostwriting exists in music as much as it does in literature. Initially, I seemed to give a negative stance on ghostwriting in the beginning of my entry, but after reading about how common it is for artists to have other artists ghostwrite for them (regardless of how famous either are), it seems to be a collaborative effort in the end. And this effort often results in songs that become wildly popular, to which one wonders whether the ghostwriter could have done the songs just as well in the first place.

Rhetorical Analysis of “Braveheart” Speech

Braveheart is an epic film from 1995. If you haven’t watched it or heard of it before, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of epic war movies (think Gladiator, 300, Troy, etc.). It tells the story of the true events of William Wallace, a Scottish warrior who led his country in the first war of Scottish independence from England. Though the film has received criticism for its historical inaccuracies, William Wallace is not a fictional character, and one could imagine the heroics demonstrated in the film as actions he very well could have enacted in that time. Throughout the film William motivates his conspirators and army men with wise sayings that eventually inspire them to act to culminate in these heroics. Right before the climatic battle between the Scottish and the English for Wallace’s countrymen’s freedom, he gives a speech to them that ultimately inspires them to go into the battle not knowing whether they would live or die.

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This speech will now be broken down by rhetorical analysis—specifically, the ethos (what kind of image the character projects to his audience) and pathos (how the character moves the emotions of his audience) of the movie’s speech will be examined, as well as the tropes (figurative uses of words through various expressive devices) and schemes (how words are arranged in a sentence) interwoven together that helps make this speech rhetorically significant. Before I continue, it is also worth mentioning what kind of style this speech is given in. Roman rhetorician Cicero distinguished three levels of style a speaker can choose to speak in: a low style (used for teaching), a middle style (used for entertainment), and a high style (used to move an audience). For obvious reasons, the speech delivered by William Wallace is observed to be given in the high style, because, as a result of his speech, his audience was moved to action. The speech will now be broken down line by line with an analysis of each item mentioned before (ethos, pathos, tropes, schemes).


 

“I am William Wallace.”

It is worth noting that prior to William giving his speech, most of the Scottish army had never seen him before. In the film, many of the warriors in the crowd speculated and discussed who he was and how he looked before he even revealed himself. When William finally does, he says it in the most matter-of-fact way. In this simple sentence, he made his ethos known. As this average heighted person galloping about the crowd on his horse, he simply introduces himself. He doesn’t do it in a very majestic way, eliciting from the crowd some sort of reverence he deserves. He simply makes the statement. In this way, he projects an image to his audience, the Scottish army, as one who is just like them, one who isn’t a seven foot tall monster, as some in the crowd had speculated, but one who looked as Scottish as they did

“And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny!”

A trope can be observed in this sentence. The use of a metonymic device (substituting a thing with a closely associated thing) is used in this exclamatory sentence. William states that he sees his Scottish people assembled in an army and they are assembled here in defiance to tyranny, which actually is a cruel and oppressive government. Tyranny substitutes what they are actually defying against—the English. The English have been ruling over the Scottish during this time period as depicted in the movie, and the way in which they ruled, the Scottish saw it as tyranny. William Wallace had just echoed what his countrymen have been sensing from their ruler. In this way, supporting the high style that Cicero defines, William Wallace moves his peoples’ oppressed hearts. On that note, the pathos in this statement can be observed. A term like tyranny has a negative connotation associated, therefore Wallace’s usage of the term as something they are going up against creates a sense of justification in their emotions, riling them up to take action for a “just” cause. After all, defiance against tyranny means righteousness.

“You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are!”

The scheme observed in this sentence is an antimetabole (a sentence arrangement in which items are repeated in reverse order). The sentences are essentially reversed. The object “free men” in the first sentence is seen as the subject in the second sentence. William, in phrasing it this way, tells the audience that they have come to fight as ones who are free, free from the tyranny mentioned earlier, free from the English, no longer under their rule, and repeating, in an unexpected manner, that they are in fact free. This adds onto the pathos, how the audience feels, because the meaning is conveyed that they are free men, not meant to be under the oppressive rule of the English. This also adds to William’s ethos, because he speaks as one who has seen this truth and declares this truth over his people. Most of his countrymen see that he speaks from his heart, speaking honesty.

“What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?”

After having built his audience up by declaring those last couple statements, William elicits this rhetorical question—“What will you do without freedom?” Essentially, what would they do if they were not free people? Would they fight for their freedom? By asking these questions, William gauges his countrymen’s commitment and willingness to act for their country.

“Two thousand against ten?” –a warrior in the crowd shouted, “No! We will run – and live!”

A hyperbolic (intentionally overstated) question made by one of the audience members that summarizes the situation at hand. There are not literally two thousand of the English opposition, neither are there only ten Scottish warriors, but the exaggeration is made to emphasize their fear, their lack of faith.

“Yes!” Wallace shouted back.

William shouts back an affirmative response immediately to the question raised by one of the warriors in the audience. This response of his also adds onto his ethos, that he is no coward, and that he is a man of faith. A man who believes that their “ten” are able to go up against the English’s “two thousand.”

“Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile.”

William answers the second part to that statement made by the warrior in the crowd. He tells the audience honestly what might happen if they fight, as well as what truthfully might happen if they don’t fight and run away. They would live, but not for long, but a while. An antithesis (contrasting items side by side) is observed in these sentences. Two options that contrast—fight or run—but both show essentially the same outcome—death. William conveys the meaning that would they rather die fighting for something of great weight, or run away and die later for something lacking in weight.

“And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

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In William’s concluding statement before the audience is literally moved to action in battle, he makes one last emotional appeal. First, he creates an image in the minds of his listeners, an image of death on a bed. Then he offers up a trade. This trade includes all the days in between that day of death on the bed and the day they could face their enemies and tell it to their face what they really want to say. “You can take our lives, but you will never take our freedom.” This last emotional appeal (pathos) stirs up the audience to cheer and move into battle in a unified spirit.

William Wallace’s purpose in delivering this speech was to give his audience the truth, that they are free men, that they are doing something right (opposing tyranny), and that they might die doing it. Granted it is a movie speech and was scripted, it is well executed in the context it’s given (Scottish independence) and does a good job depicting how warriors ought to be moved prior to giving their lives for the ideals of freedom. William’s ethos is clearly established, the pathos observed in his speech emotionally drew in his audience, and the stylistic devices (tropes and schemes) helped to tightly wrap up his message to be delivered rightfully.

Here’s the clip of the speech from the movie (start from 1:35):

Commonplace Entry #6

“Our Grill Masters expertly craft our new Signature Chicken Salads to deliver a variety of authentic Mexican-inspired flavors. Each salad is prepared with ingredients like savory black beans, hand-sliced avocados, fresh mango salsa, crispy bacon or crumbled Cotija cheese. And since there are four delicious salads to choose from, you might just have to try them all. Some say the lengths we go to are crazy. We say it’s Crazy You Can Taste.” –El Pollo Loco advertisement from the week of 5/5/14

I was eating lunch today and reading what came in the mail. I saw this El Pollo Loco advertisement for this week that included its coupon and promotional items for the month. This quote is from their description advertising their new “Signature Chicken Salads, Fire-Grilled.” I noticed a few things about the quote. Their food preparers are referred to as ‘Grill Masters,’ implying that there is a mastery of the grill (which I do not doubt). And the last two lines jumped out at me especially. ‘Crazy’ is a state of mind. When one is described as crazy it is the same as saying that person is mentally deranged. Here the fast food restaurant describes that you can taste this mentally deranged state, meaning that you taste it and you could very well be crazy afterwards. It’s a funny statement, because who wants to be crazy? But in today’s culture these types of meanings are double, and in this case, you very well will be crazy after eating their food…crazy for more…more chicken.

A Review of the “PARKEZ Parking Stop Sign for Garages”

I never know how far to drive into my garage before hitting the cupboard at the back end and lightly scratching the front of my car’s body. I tried to troubleshoot my way around it by using my brother’s car, which is parked adjacent to mine, as a gauge. If my right hand side mirror surpasses by brother’s left hand side mirror (we have a two car parking garage and I park on the left) then I know that I have parked far enough into the garage where my backend would not be too close to the garage door and my front end would not be touching the cupboard. It’s the ideal parking situation. However, when my brother’s car isn’t there, I don’t have a gauge. I might seem a bit incompetent in my parking skills, especially in my own garage, and you might observe correctly, but I’ve thought my way in and around this too many times. It’s become a mental issue now whenever I come home. I experience a moment of stress landing my vehicle in its proper place. If you can sympathize with my testimony, then you must continue reading.

I just knew someone, somewhere out there, has experienced the same unnecessary frustrations I had. After a few minutes of googling my frustrations (to be specific, I googled “parking garage guidance”), it appeared before my eyes—the answer, the truth, the ParkEZ Flashing LED Light Parking Stop Sign for Garages. This was the answer to my inability to gracefully enter my garage.

Essentially, it’s an oversized (about the height of the average fourth grader in America) bobble-head that has a miniature stop sign as its head. This stand would be placed in the preferred ending point that you’d like your car to be parked. Once the stand is assembled and in place, you slowly drive your vehicle into the garage until the front end lightly taps the ParkEZ stand, causing it to flash (hence the “Flashing LED Light” descriptor). Once you observe the bobbing of the stand, and even the flashing, you know that you’ve landed. No more worries about scratching your front end, or damaging your dad’s makeshift cupboard, or wondering if your brother’s home so you could use his car as a gauge for yours, etc. Peace of mind can be bought, and it’s affordable at under twenty Washingtons, or one Jackson (he’s the president on the twenty dollar bill, if you didn’t know).

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I ordered one stand through Amazon after considering the reviews customers had. The stand has averaged a 3.5 star rating out of 42 reviewers on Amazon. I’m usually a four star snob when purchasing items on Amazon. If the product I’m looking to purchase doesn’t meet the 4 star requirement with at least over 30 reviewers, I’ll be highly cautious and hesitant about making the purchase. However, this product seemed too good to be true and seemed, as I said before, like the answer to my problem. After sifting through the reviews and seeing what kind of cons customers had brought forth about the stand, I made the decision to hit the kill switch and went in for the buy.

The product was delivered to me within a week, and I’ve been using it for almost three weeks now, and it’s served its purpose beautifully, so far. The important thing is, I now no longer need my brother’s car or his help in guiding me into the garage, nor do I fear more light scratches appearing on the front end of my car or my dad’s cupboard, which he complained about at times (sorry, dad). And now that I’ve had the experience of actually using the product, I can address some of the cons customers had discussed on Amazon. The main flaw I saw most people review about was how flimsy the stand’s pole could be. I didn’t have an issue with how flimsy the pole was, especially since I was more concerned about hitting things that would cause more dinges to appear on my car. Why would I want to hit something that’s hard? That would defeat the purpose of the stand. I can suggest a workaround though. Consider the thinnest and lightest PVC pipes from your local hardware store and slide this onto the pole. This might make the stand more sturdy and definitely less flimsy.

Overall, I recommend this product. If you sympathized with my story and want to be free of unnecessary frustrations when parking in any kind of garage, then this budget-friendly product will bring you comfort in ways you would have never imagined—fine, it’s not that comforting, but it’s definitely peace of mind!

This is a video of a similar product I found on YouTube. It’s literally the same product. Check it out if you’d like to see it in action! I suggest starting from 0:55.

Brief History of Myself as a Writer

I don’t consider myself a very experienced writer. The only times I write are when I’m reflecting on something I read or did, to help better clarify my thoughts, and to communicate with friends, family, and others. I recall the time when I began writing intentionally and writing a lot. Before then, I often avoided writing at all costs and would only write if I were to receive a grade for my writing. I was in my second year at community college. During this period of my life, I was thinking more about the future, what I wanted to further study at a university, and if I even wanted to go to a university. I was also reading a lot more than usual—fiction, non-fiction, research-based articles, biographies, news, journals, blogs, etcetera. I was taking fewer classes and I just had time, so I read. As I read though, I found myself having problems understanding my readings and I had heard from a friend or from a reading or from some source out there that writing in reflection to what you read would help the decoding process. It did, to my surprise. I think it was because of this observed reciprocity that the vicious cycle of reading and writing began. I really didn’t enjoy writing before that time, before the discovery that writing could help my thinking and reflection process. It was only after seeing the benefits I was receiving from writing that I took up writing as a form of discipline, which eventually found its way to enjoyment.

I often wrote during the late and unholy hours of the night. I especially liked writing during these times. But that’s probably because my brain chemicals mixed around in a way to concoct the feeling of joy during these hours when I should have been sleeping. It’s strange. I wouldn’t even think of encountering these hours of the night to write. I sleep at a certain time, say half past nine in the evening, and I just happen to wake up the following morning at three, wide awake and ready to do something. So in these times I wrote because I couldn’t sleep. The things I wrote varied from notes about what I had dreamed, scattered thoughts I might have had the day before, thoughts about the future, to writing what I believed to be forms of poetry, though I’ve never been taught how to write poetically, ever. I just wrote because I couldn’t sleep. In a way, it was also sleep therapy, because I would write until I felt like I could sleep again. I would always sleep again after I woke up to write. Writing about this now, or rather typing about this now, I see that writing’s served me in more ways than one. Not only has it helped me better articulate my thoughts, it’s also been inexpensive, practically free, therapy to help whatever sleep issue I had or have.

When I read books, novels specifically, I look at how the author writes and wonder how he or she came to his or her own style of writing. I read the sentences and think that I would have never thought to write it that way or to add those details. It marvels me all the time. I wonder about what experiences, what habits these authors have cultivated, what books they read, and how they were instructed, if they even were, to write the way they do. I don’t think I’m envious. I think I’m just curious and would like a rope into this process. I once even tried to mimic an author’s style. I think it worked too. I was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” at the time and saw that he used many adverbs and run on sentences in his writing to give his characters flavor and quirk. He also used a lot of different ways of writing that I’m pretty sure violated the prescriptive rules of grammar many of us learned during our primary school years. I would read certain passages of his over and over until his words would be in my thoughts, his style of phrasing ideas. I then transferred this style of phrasing ideas into my own writing. I found that it worked, as I began to see some similarity between my writing and his. In an essay assignment I had for my freshman composition course, I was even given feedback from my instructor to not use so many adverbs as it created wordiness and awkwardness in my writing. I pulled back a little from mimicking Jonathan’s style after that comment. I found that I was also chatting with my friends online in the same way. “That was an amazingly well told story, Stephen. I hardly knew you would tell me so honestly.” My friend would respond with, “Yes, that was amazingly well told and I am an honest friend, so I would honestly tell you things, Edwin.” I think this was a hint from my friend that I had gone a bit too far into the deep end about my usage of adverbs. Anyway, I think I’m better now with adapting different writing styles. I find that certain styles do appeal to me—the quirky and sometimes crass type. I don’t even know if that’s considered a style or not, but that kind of writing appeals to me.

Even after this whole reflection, I still don’t consider myself a very experienced writer. I suppose that’s subjective and can be up for interpretation depending on who’s reading my writing, which never happens since I don’t share my writing. But I’d to like explore more techniques and understandings of how to mold words and mix them into sentences that would taste good. I still continue to practice writing in response to my readings. I also still wake up in the dark finding a need to write to get back to sleep. And I still read and try to adapt different ways others write into my own writing. I suppose all these habits have and will continue to help shape me as a writer. Now, if I can only learn how to better control the styles I adapt and not write in all these voices that make me seem schizophrenic to my friends…

Time Management

“Developing time management skills is a journey that may begin with this Guide, but needs practice and other guidance along the way.”–taken from http://www.studygs.net/timman.htm

After reading from different blogs and articles about time management, it seems that the overarching theme is developing a habit. This habit must include knowing the purposes of each day, prioritizing these purposes, and creating a strategic plan for achieving these purposes accordingly. Applying these principles to a college student’s life is no small task. There are tons of distractions one has to be wary about–items ranging from netflix, facebook, buzzfeed, reddit, yahoo news, gchat, etc. Fortunately, we know the one source of these common distractions, that is, technology. Because most of these common distractors in a college student’s life emanate most often from these pocket devices called smartphones and portable computers called laptops, or tablets now, there comes the decision, a very important one that must be with great volition, to sever ties with them to complete these goals. Now, I didn’t mean to make your heart skip a beat there, but let’s be honest with ourselves. These are distractions that need to be addressed and faced. Once these are taken care of by the practice of something called self-control, one can find it easier to prioritize and complete tasks each day, which in the case of a college student would be completing readings for Shakespeare, linear algebra problems and proofs, proving some scientific theory, and even being able to get up at 5 in the morning to run those 4 miles that would help prevent heart disease and weight gain in the future, possibly.

From the different readings, here’s a comprehensive list of items to consider when managing your time as a college student:

1) Know your distractions and make the decision to sever ties with them, or at least exercise strong self-control

2) Know your purposes for the day

3) Prioritize these purposes

4) Plan out how you’ll complete these purposes for the day

This can also be summed up in the following acronym: KKPP.