1 William Molnar

Writing Difficulties By William Molnar

Franklin Roosevelt said in his first Inaugural address that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. When sitting down to write a piece of work, I begin to feel a lot of fear. I ask myself what is it that is giving me the fear; is it that I am afraid that I won’t be able to say what it is I need to say? Is it I am afraid of what others might think of my writing? Or could it be that I might develop writer’s block and can’tdevelop my thoughts into words? There are a lot of reasons why students have difficulties writing. For me, itis past educational experience. I was in advanced English coursesfor all 4 years of High School. I spent very little time learning how to write effectively. I would have to say that at least 90% of the courses focused on literature; for example, Freshman year was devoted to the Elizabethan Era. Sophomore year was the year we studied mostly Shakespeare and books like Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. My Junior and Senior year was also literature based. When it came time to go to college, I had to take a composition exam prior to admission; I failed the exam and was forced to take remedial non-credit English and found it extremely difficult. I realized I had no writing experience at all and was afraid to write because everything I wrote would be returned to me with red marks all over the place. This placedmore fear in me. I think the number one reason why students have difficulties writing is just the fear of writing. Other fears can grow in other ways based on reaction of another person. If I write a composition and get a bad reaction from my readers, this can grow into fear. I would wonder why the readers are reacting the way they do. Is it because of the topic at hand? Is it that there is poor grammar? Could there be plagiarism? Whatever the reason, it is placing more fear in me. It wasn’t until

2 William Molnar

my years in graduate school that I felt comfortable with my writing skills. If it wasn’t for that remedial course and the wonderful professors I had in graduate school, then I don’t think I would have the courage to try to write the way I do today. There are various strategies for addressing difficulties of scholarly writing. As a teacher, even though I teach music and not composition,we emphasize a lot on writing skills. As a teacher in an urban district, the writing skills are extremely poor. Most of our 8th grade students are writing at a 3rd and 4thgrade level. The one strategy that we teach students to use is a writing web or a Venn diagram. This diagram consists of a central theme in a circle in the middle of the diagram and various threads coming out of the central circle like spikes on a wheel. These threads direct the students to various issues in the essay they are writing. The second strategy that can help is brainstorming. We teach our students to just jot down what comes in their head whether it be asentence fragment or a complete sentence. After the student has exhausted all his thoughts, he goes back to the beginning and begins to tie in the fragments. Eventually, the fragments and incomplete thoughts will become sentences and soon, an essay will develop. Using these two methods is a start to help with quality writing. The only area the writer needs to be aware of is plagiarism. The writer needs to be very conscious of what he/she is writing when writing based on something that was read. If one is going to use an exact quote from a reading, be sure to cite the source. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to try and use one’s own words and ideas and give credit for copied or paraphrased material.

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