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General Writing and Grammar Help/I have a question on my essay topic


QUESTION: I have to write an essay on "My strengths and Weakness' in Reading and Writing" for AP Composition.  Now I have no idea what to write?  Like what am I supposed to write?  How do start it?  I have been spending weeks but its too hard of a topic.  I'm so stumped, please help me.

ANSWER: Matthew,

What are your strengths and weaknesses.  From reading what you wrote in this question, you seem to suffer from a lack of creativity or imagination (a weakness).  I suggest that on a piece of paper, you list two columns--Strengths and Weaknesses, and brainstorm to see what you can come up with.  Do you enjoy reading? (a strength). What kind of reading do you like to do?  If you don't like writing, ask yourself "why?"  Do you have trouble starting a paper?  Do you like to do research?  Are you good at grammar?  Are you good at explaining things in a paper or do you prefer writing about history?

Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with a book answer because my strengths and weaknesses are my own.

Dr. D

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes I do lack creativity and imagination.  I am usually good at English, but I have a hard time writing about myself.  I need an actual topic like a book, or something about history, a person, etc.  Can you keep asking those questions like, "Do you like to do research", "Are good at grammar" etc.  Those questions you asked helped me because I didn't think of any of that, that's how hard this for me.  So now I know what to write, but keep asking me questions to ask myself.  Thank you I would never have thought of any of that.  Also I am kind of writing informally on here so don't think this is how I usually write.  Thank you!


Ok, we now have a place to start.  This paper is asking you to step back and perform a self-reflection.  You mentioned that you have trouble starting unless you are given a topic.  This could be a weakness but it is also a strength if you are able to take a topic and you can narrow or expand it. How is your vocabulary?  If you are an avid reader, this often builds one's vocabulary.  Can you write a 5-paragraph paper with a strong introduction, three paragraphs that support your thesis statement, and a concluding paragraph that recaps the points you made in your paper without adding anything new.  Do you take the time to edit and proofread your papers (a strength) or once you are done, you turn in the work and do not take time to edit your work.  Are you a good proofreader or do you frequently miss errors.  Do you avoid using slang in your papers.  Are you careful not to plagiarize?

So, now that you are more aware of the things that are weak in your writing, the next logical step would be to address how you are going to improve.  Awareness is the first step in this process. Once you acknowledge your weaknesses, with work and practice, they should become strengths for you.

Dr. D

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Deborah Burgess


Essays--I can assist students with questions concerning the process of writing an essay including preparation of an outline, development of a topic, development of the thesis statement and topic sentences, and paragraph development. I can assist students in helping them determine the proper rhetorical modes for their essay (narration, illustration, description, process analysis, comparison and contrast, and argumentation. I am able to answer questions concerning rules of style for a research paper including referencing sources. I am able to address questions regarding punctuation and grammar.


I teach a writing workshop for the University of Phoenix (Richmond Campus) and two college courses: Essentials of College Writing and Elements of Composition.

Doctor of Management--University of Phoenix Masters in Human Resources--George Washington University B.A.--French and Linguistics, Oakland University

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