You have The Undertaker of all papers, a formidable foe to challenge your intellectual pro-wrestling (erm, or pro-writing) skills–what do you do? How do you take on such an opponent? Check out this handy guide we put together to help you clothesline your next writing assignment—informed, of course, by The Rock.
The Rock says this: “You Will Go One-on-One with the Great One!”
(Academic translation: know your audience and understand your assignment)
Before The Rock even steps into the ring, he learns his opponent’s moves inside and out. In order to take down your next paper, you’ll have to find out exactly what you’re up against: What is the purpose of the assignment? What are the requirements? Think about the skills your professor wants you to demonstrate through the assignment. For instance, some want to examine your ability to form your own argument; others want you to synthesize current research. Don’t forget to consider your audience – The Rock didn’t become popular by ignoring what the crowd wanted! And, if you don’t understand something, ask!
The Rock says this: “Can You smell what the Rock is cookin’!?”
(Academic translation: narrow your topic)
Even in the Royal Rumble, The Rock can’t fight everyone at once; he has to fight one opponent at a time. Likewise, in the writing arena, you can’t tackle multiple large topics in one paper. Writing about mental health for your term paper is excellent—but how can you write about all aspects of the subject in 10 pages? Entire books are written about specific mental disorders! A more manageable research paper would focus on, for example, how marijuana affects the development of bipolar disorder in 18-22 year olds with predispositions to the ailment. Asking questions–like who, what, when, where, and why–can help you start to wrangle your topic.
One of the reasons The Rock can lay the verbal smackdown is that he has the muscles to back it up. As a writer, you need to bulk up: in other words, get your research on. Whether your paper requires formal research or informal methods like self-reflection or interviews, be knowledgeable about the topic you’ve selected. If your assignment requires you to use scholarly sources, take advantage of the great resources available through Cook Library. Keep in mind that the first sources you come across may not always be the best for your paper; be thorough and take your time.
The Rock says this: “Just Bring It!”
(Academic translation: organize, organize, organize)
The Rock never goes into the ring without a plan. Pre-planning can help you formulate a strategy to take down any intimidating writing assignment.Think about your most important points and examples and organize your paper accordingly. Quickly outlining your ideas before you start and reverse outlining after you finish writing are effective methods of making sure you’re staying focused. It’s okay–and even encouraged–to revise and reorganize your paper as you write and learn more about your topic.
The Rock says this: “Layeth the Smacketh Down”
(Academic translation: Get it down on paper!)
Well, you’ve set the foundation for your paper by researching and organizing. Time to write! An important thing to remember is that your first draft is going to be less than perfect; it’ll look like The Rock when he wore fanny packs. The good thing? Your first draft always has the potential to turn into The Rock as he is now! Trust the process and the hard work you’ve put into your paper so far and just write. Have faith–the cream will always rise to the top.
Before The Rock can claim his victory belt, he has to execute his signature finishing move, The People’s Elbow, and pin his opponent. You’re now in a similar position. You’ve done the prep work. You’ve written your first draft. You’ve endured countless wrestling metaphors. Now it’s time to finish off The Undertaker and become a WWE champion! So, how do you do this?
Check your organization, make sure you have evidence to support your ideas, look for grammatical and spelling mistakes, and take your draft to the Writing Center! Doing these things can transform your paper from a roody poo draft into a polished piece of academic magnificence. Oh–and don’t forget to collect your championship belt after pinning The Undertaker.
Tyler New, Michele Calderon, Miranda Rennie, and Jessica Reyes
Towson Writing Center