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Home Notes for Introduction to Literature Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
Notes for Introduction to Literature
Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
~~ OVERCOMING READER'S BLOCK ~~
Solution #1: Adjust your attitude!
1. Think of the problem of reader's block as being solvable, not insurmountable. It doesn't always have to be this way you don't always have to become bored when you read something dry or difficult you won't always have to struggle to concentrate the way you do now Reader's block, if there is such a thing, is a concrete problem with concrete solutions. There's no reason to continue being a poor or ineffective reader the entire time you're in college. Start improving your habits now!
2. Accept the fact that reading for college is not a leisure activity. It's not "entertainment," nor was it meant to be. This is not to say that reading is not enjoyable, or cannot be enjoyable. You are reading to learn, and if you enjoy learning, then you will enjoy reading.
Solution #2: Open your mind!
1. Be open-minded. Having an open mind is essential to reading effectively. Remain receptive to what the text can show you or teach you. If you are willing to entertain ideas you don't necessarily agree with, you can expand your understanding of different points of view. You become smarter that way--more "well-rounded." You can still disagree, but you'll have to think about why.
2. Be curious! Real learning is never passive. You bring your active curiosity to any reading situation. You can't expect to grow intellectually without being curious enough to want to discover new ideas, new ways of thinking about or understanding the world.
3. Be humble. Approach serious texts with the understanding that they are trying to share knowledge with you.
4. Be critical. As you get better at reading, comfortable that you understand what an author is trying to get across, it becomes important to remember the old truism: you can't believe everything you read. Be ready to uncover faulty logic, biases, or other intellectually unsound practices that might manipulate you unreasonably. This can be a challenge; some actually consider it dare I say, fun.
5. Dance with the text. Make a mental note where it touches you personally. How does what the writer is saying resonate with your own experiences? Make associative connections to your own life and with other texts you've read. Jot these associations in the margin as you're reading.
Solution #3: Be practical!
1. Only read (for school) when you are awake and alert. Set aside a time when you know you're not likely to be tired or mentally distracted. Be prepared for the necessity of concentrating deeply.
2. Choose a place to read that's comfortable and unobtrusive. Don't try to read in a place that you know will cause you distractions. Some people like to read in noisy, busy places; others need quiet. Get to know what works best for you individually.
3. Be prepared to write as you read. This means having the right materials ready. You'll need a pen to annotate the text and a dictionary to look up words you don't know. You might even need to keep your notebook or a reading journal handy so that you can note any longer questions or commentary you might have about specific passages. A double column reading journal is quite useful for this purpose. In the left-hand column you copy short passages from the text that you would like to respond to, either with a question or a comment. Then, in the right-hand column, you record your response, whatever it is. Maybe you don't understand what the author is saying. Maybe you want to voice your agreement or disagreement. Maybe you want to pursue an association you've made with the idea stated. This commentary is recorded in the right-hand column. Writing as you read helps you stay active as you read; some people even think more clearly if they are writing.
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