One of the most frequent requests I have as graduate student and a published author is for help in writing papers. Here at seminary we get a lot of graduate students, and even undergrad students, who have been out of formal education for a long time. They’ve forgotten how to do academic papers…if they even learned how to do one properly in the first place. In the first three weeks of this semester alone, I’ve received at least four requests for help. So I’ve decided to write an article on the process I’ve developed for writing academically. It’s not the only method out there, but it’s a method I’ve tested and refined, and it makes writing papers much easier than you might think. A call my method a “Word Count System.”
This is not an article on using Turabian, Chicago, APA, AP, MLA, or whatever manual of style you’ve been instructed to use. I don’t intend to write one of those either. Nor is this an article on how to “write good.” I might do one of those one day, but honestly that’s pretty complicated and depends on your topic and audience. And this is not an article on how to do research. This article is simply on my style and process for preparing for, organizing, and outlining an academic paper. This article will help you with your prewriting, a deficiency for many people. Prewriting is one of the most important, and often neglected, steps in writing a paper. If you don’t plan your paper, it’s like going jogging blind folded. Sure you may get there, but it’ll be painful and you might not end up where you wanted to go.
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