Posts Tagged ‘finding a subject’

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Finding a Subject: Fall Edition

posted: 10.28.11 by archived

I tell my students that finding a subject to write about is half the battle. The longer I teach the more I think we may not spend enough time at this crucial invention stage.  That’s the problem with procrastinating, I say, that you don’t give yourself time for your subconscious to get to work in collecting up some details so that you can to consider and assess various possibilities.

Instead of focusing on the writing process via thesis statement, outline, topic sentence, transitional device (terms that can make even my eyes glaze over), I try to talk about a thinking process that goes something like this:

Seeing. Start with getting out in the world and looking, as I did last summer in my wildflower post. I use the purely visual here as metaphor for the nontrivial tasks of noticing, listening, collecting up scraps. My students don’t find it easy to cultivate this attentiveness, with family and work obligations filling their schedules and cradled cellphone screens filling their fields of vision.

Naming. Once they manage to focus their attention, it’s another challenge to find the words to describe what they see.  I try an exercise. Look at this and describe what you see:


First attempts look something like this: “It’s a decent size store with things all over the walls and things stacked on top of each other in many different colors and sizes. “ So what’s wrong with that, I ask? [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Holly Pappas, Writing Process
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