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Five websites for student-writers

Five websites for student-writers

Or four websites and a very modest April Fool’s joke.

1. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing
Michael Harvey’s site is perhaps the single most useful on-line resource for students who want to improve their writing. For Harvey, good writing is not reducible to zealous obedience to a handful of rules. Good writing is a matter of clarity, concision, and grace, key elements of what Harvey calls “the plain style.” His sample passages and suggested revisions will benefit any writer who gives them careful attention. The book “version” of this site, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Hackett), is the best book for student-writers I know, far more useful than Eats, Shoots & Leaves and similar titles.

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2. A Demonstration of the Futility of Using Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar Check
Sandeep Krishnamurthy’s conclusion is that Word’s spelling and grammar checker is “extraordinarily bad.” See for yourself by downloading and checking one of the sample .doc files, and then resolve never to let Word do your editing and proofreading for you.

3. The Citation Machine
The Landmark Project’s Citation Machine creates APA- and MLA-style citations for print and on-line materials. You need to be careful of course in choosing the right kind of citation and in entering the relevant information in the right places.

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4. Arts & Letters Daily
Any writer needs good models, and they are not likely to be found in textbooks. Arts & Letters Daily, a service of The Chronicle of Higher Education, offers a handful of links a day to worthwhile articles, essays, and reviews.

5. Alt+F4
Just a reminder — when you’re writing, eliminate distractions. Close your browser and IM, and give the task at hand your full attention.

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In May, I’ll turn over my guest spot to my daughter Rachel, who’s finishing her first year of college.


Michael Leddy teaches college English and has published widely as a poet and critic. He blogs at Orange Crate Art.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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