Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers.
Our featured writer is Maureen McCoy. Maureen is the Coordinator of the REACH Learning Resource Center at the University of Louisville. In August 2016 she began a doctoral program focused on College Student Personnel in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. Maureen’s Bachelor of Arts degree is in Humanities and Art History, and her Master of Arts degree is in Humanities with a focus on art history and medieval/renaissance studies.
Location: REACH, University of Louisville
Current project: Class papers
Currently reading: One More Thing by B.J. Novak
What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?
I am enrolled in a doctoral program in Counseling and Personnel Services through UofL. Much of my writing is based on research or studies of theory and attempts to apply what I have learned to practical contexts. I also work in the REACH program on campus as the coordinator for the Learning Resource Center, so I write occasional articles for publication.
When/where/how do you write?
I write in different places. Sometimes I work at home, but I will also go to the library if I really need to make myself focus. I like to spread out my materials, so no matter where I am I prefer to have a large table ore area to work. I will jot down an outline or the major points for my paper and which sources I will use to support them. This gives me a chance to organize my thoughts and make a plan. Then I start writing. I usually work on it by section if I have a clear outline, or I will work through it by source, putting them together as needed. I cannot write everything in one setting usually, and I take breaks throughout the day to stretch or refresh myself. I will also proofread my work at the beginning of each writing day to get myself in the right mindset, fix errors, and identify holes in or problems with my argument or organization.
What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?
I mostly need space for my resources and notes and my laptop. I prefer quiet, but I will put on instrumental music if I am at home and not in a public place.
What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?
Gather everything together and try to make a plan before you get started. This will help you organize your thoughts. I revise my work every day as I am working. I will even walk away from it for a day or two and then revisit it to make sure that it all still makes sense. Getting started early is essential for me because having time away from the work gives me time to reconsider what I am doing and where I am going when I get back to it.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Do your citations and reference pages as you go so that you don’t miss anything!
Do you know someone who would be great for How I Write? Send us your recommendations!