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Thursday, October 16, 2014 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Turn Negative Writing Experiences Into Positive Ones



For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Today we hear expert suggestions for academic writing. Jennifer Ahern-Dodson is an assistant professor of the Practice in Writing Studies at Duke University in North Carolina. Ms. Ahern-Dodson likes to start a discussion with both students and professors planning to write a paper or essay. She asks about their earlier writing experiences. Were they negative or positive? She says you are not alone if you have had problems with your writing. Everyone struggles with writing. "Writing is hard. It's hard for all writers at some point," she says. "And at some point you are going to hit a roadblock," she adds. She advises to think about earlier experiences. When the writing is going well, what was happening? When the writing was not going well, what was happening? She says most people's negative writing experiences happened because a very specific formula or page limit was required.

Another problem can arise when the need to do well on a paper is extremely important. Anxiety, she says, can make it harder to get the writing done. Ms. Ahern-Dodson says when writing comes easily, the writers believe they have something important to say. She advises asking yourself questions. What insights can you bring to your paper? Why does this subject matter? What is its importance? For whom is it meaningful? Who will be reading it? You can ease writing by placing your attention on what you have to offer. That, says Ms. Ahern-Dodson, is an important change for all writers.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.