What should I do after I'm assigned an essay?
The first thing you should do is carefully read any sort of assignment prompt or rubric your instructor gave to you. Make sure you understand their instructions; if any of them aren't clear, speak with your instructor during his/her office hours. Once you have a solid idea of what needs to be accomplished in the essay, start brainstorming. I like to spend a few minutes writing down my ideas on a piece of paper. I then tape this list of ideas to my bathroom mirror. When I prepare myself for bed or get ready in the morning, I spend time further developing the ideas I came up with.
How can I develop an appreciation for poetry?
The most important thing to keep in mind about poetry is that it must be read aloud. Poets write their works with the intention of them being heard, not simply read. I recommend that you read the poem aloud yourself and also navigate to a service such as You Tube and see if they have any videos of the actual writers or others reading the work. There is nothing like hearing a poet read aloud his/her poem.
What are some strategies for proofreading?
Proofreading your own work is a skill every writer should have in his/her toolbox. I utilize a few different strategies when reading through my own work. First, I recommend reading your paper aloud. When you do this, it becomes easier to find comma errors, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. If you find yourself stumbling over sentences as you read them aloud, you probably need to do some revising. Second, when I proofread, I start from the end of the document and work my way to the beginning. Reading an essay out of chronological order is rather confusing and will force you to slow down; you can find more errors this way. Lastly, use your resources! If you have a parent, a roommate, a friend, etc., who is great at finding errors, ask them to spend a few minutes reading through your document.