Why It Matters: Writing Essentials Workshop

A chemist pipetting multiple solutions into test tubes.

Figure 1. In any experiment, some strategies will lead to results, but some won’t. That’s why chemists test multiple chemical reactions at the same time.

Why support academic arguments with evidence?

The actor and author Octavia Spencer once said: “The hardest thing about writing for me is facing the blank page.”[1] Let’s face it: the blank page— or, nowadays, the blank screen— can be a fearsome sight. The horror writer Stephen King, who knows something about fear, tells us that “the scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” (On Writing 269).

These writing lab modules are designed to get you past the blank page. We’ll present a number of different techniques to generate and organize ideas. Some of the assignments may not feel very useful. You might find yourself thinking “this doesn’t work for me.” That’s OK! Do it anyway. The point of the writing lab modules is to experiment with different writing and prewriting activities to find the ones that work best for you. As in any experiment, some strategies will lead to results, but others won’t. In this case, we’re confident that there’s something to learn from a variety of approaches to writing– even the ones you might not think are helpful at the time.

Writing Workshop: Your Working Document

Every component of the working document will be introduced throughout this module in a blue box such as this one. Open your working document now and keep it open as you progress through the module.

  1. Go to the assignment for this module in your LMS. Click on the link to open the Working Document for this module as a Google Document.
  2. Choose “file” then “make a copy” to make your own version of the document. If you prefer to download it as a word or other file, you may.Screenshot of the file, make a copy, button inside of google docs
  3. Rename it as “YOUR NAME: Working Doc – Writing Essentials” and move it to a folder where you can easily find it.screenshot of copy document and renaming settings inside of google docs
  4. Next, go to the sharing settings and change it so that “Anyone with the link can comment.” This will enable your instructor to make comments on the document.Screenshot of GoogleDocs sharing settings set to "Anyone with the link can comment"
  5. Now hold onto this document—we’ll need it soon! (You’ll submit the link to your instructor once you’ve completed the Writing Workshop activities).


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  1. Lee, Stephan. “Octavia Spencer Chats with Nate Foster of 'Five, Six, Seven, Nate!'.” Entertainment Weekly, 5 Mar. 2014, .ew.com/article/2014/03/05/octavia-spencer-nate-foster-interview/.