Department of Biological Sciences (BIO)

Grasshopper writing and focused strings

Over sixty students filled the little auditorium at BIO to learn more about how to approach thesis writing. Associate Professor Karen Lunsford from the University of California, Santa Barbara actively engaged them in a series of short exercises addressing issues of writer’s block and controlling information flow.


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The technique of linked free writing is one that Lunsford recommends for focusing and organizing one's thoughts. The technique has also been demonstrated as effective for increasing written exam performance!

Ever thought of your project as a colour or an object? Research has shown that such unusual approaches can be effective in relieving writer's block.

Lunsford stressed the importance of making regular time for writing - optimally at the same time each day; a time that you feel most effective writing.

When Lunsford addressed the issue of controlling information flow, she took the students through a series of exercises that demonstrated how most early drafts tend to be writer-based prose or, grasshopper writing. She helped the students to work through examples that turned the information flow into a more reader-based format.

Lunsford introduced the idea of strings to follow information flow. She demonstrated how sentences or paragraphs could use a focused string technique or a chained string technique.

The workshop provided concrete tips and engaged the students actively in the learning process. The students left with ideas of how to make their theses better achieve the goal of being easier to read, and thus more effective at getting their message across.

Information about the remaining workshops: http://bio.uib.no/lunsford