I'm going to take a moment to share with you the benefits of three things I enjoy: procrastinating, internetting, and paper writing. These three activities can complement each other in surprising ways. Here's the secret: use the time you procrastinate on the internet to think about writing. Change the way you think about research: it's just as entertaining and satisfying as scrolling through every page of texts from last night. For example, I am writing a research paper on language in (and outside of) the Internet, so right now I am constantly reading and writing about the Internet; if I try to procrastinate, I still get to think about my project. 

Here are some websites I have found most useful in both procrastination and getting a fascinating look into writing and language on the Internet.

Everyone, yes, even @agnesscott has a twitter.

A fun example of an average twitter account is @PeteASCDining.

Let's look at what (not) to do on twitter using @PeteASCDining as an example.  
Pete's tweets are true to the Bio on the right panel: "All about food at Agnes Scott College"; however, he doesn't make good use of #reallysweethashtags. He also doesn't cite his source to the claim "Fried chicken is the most popular meal ordered in restaurants in the United States". He could have used tinyurl to shorten a link to let us know where he got his information from. Given that one has to be concise when using twitter, it's important to be as clear as possible. When Pete follows his former sentence with "The next in popular is the Evans Mozzarella Sandwich!", he is not being very clear. He could have said that "At ASC, the most popular is..." or at least "The next in popularity..." Pete does use an internet staple--an emoticon--in an earlier tweet to convey emotion and give the reader a sense of tone.
Twitter was created for producing a condensed amount of language, to say something of value with only 140 characters. While you can't embed pictures within the “tweets”, links to other webpages, images, audio files, etc. are commonly fit (usually with sites like tinyurl) into the 140 character limit. Another feature is “re-tweeting”, a safe way to quote someone without plagiarizing them. #Hashtags appear to have gained their own grammatical value within the structure of twitter; they're a way to “tag” or categorize a tweet (or other types of posts on the internet).

On the internet in general, "tags" are usually one-word descriptions used to make searching easier without pre-established categories.
On twitter, #hashtags have also been used as a way to indicate one's inner thoughts, the subject of the tweet, an aside, or to illustrate some kind of irony or humor.

A positive aspect of this growing social networking/information sharing site is its insistence on brevity. It is difficult to get across as much meaning as possible within the strict limit of 140 characters. This may have something to do with the #proliferation of the hashtag as a shortened way of conveying emotion or other context to the tweet.

With tumblr., there is no character limit for your "tumblelog", yet remains (at least on wikipedia) under the category of “micro blogging” as is twitter. It also seems to serve as a social networking site as well. There is a huge variety in content on tumblr. From libraryland to the daily what to curate to a small and creepy blog, there's a seemingly endless supply of images, video, audio files, quotes, text and links to occupy your time (there's even rumors of an underground Agnes Scott blog somewhere on tumblr.). And the beauty of tumblr. is, if there isn't a blog of your favorite band, you can always make one yourself! While "tumbling", you may find yourself finding inspiration for assignments, reading a particularly poignant quote (as one may find on this student's tumblelog), or bouncing ideas off of your "followers" through the magic of comments and "reblogging". I have seen many a student post about their current project and get feedback from their friends on tumblr. 

Google buzz is a new (as of February 2010) social networking/messaging tool—what makes it different? If you have a Gmail account, Google buzz is automatically integrated into the side panel of your home page. While checking the 9,001th ASC email of the day (you do forward your emails to Gmail, right?) you can see what the "buzz" is about. Google buzz be used to share posts from your Google reader, links, images, videos; users can comment, and these comments are put into “conversations” in your inbox. 

Of course, you could just skip all of this and just write your paper, but if you find yourself gravitating toward these tempting websites, now you have an idea of how to use your fun time for your academic benefit. Happy surfing :-)

Cory Struder is a junior English Literature major and a tutor in the Writing Center.
   It may be hard to believe but finals are right around the corner. The next two weeks will separate the weak from the strong. The Dean’s List students from the Honor’s List students. Every minute of next week could potential determine your future! Ifyou're not stressed yet then just wait, it will catch up to you soon. No Agnes Scott student will be spared. But fortunately for you I have decided to share my fool proof tips in staying happy, sane, and most of all hopeful during the impending final weeks.  

-         Create a study schedule! Please don’t schedule every second of your day, instead make a plan of what you would like to accomplish each day. You are much more likely to follow your schedule if it is not too demanding so make sure to keep it simple and be realistic. 

 -         Study breaks are your friends! Make sure to refresh your mind by taking periodic breaks. For all you know that really hard problem will magically become easy after a short walk or coffee break.

 -         Make sure to get sleep. All nighters may seem like a good idea but in reality they are not. I have spent many nights studying and getting as little as 2 hours of sleep. I thought I would gain more from studying then sleeping the night before a test.Unfortunately I was wrong and paid for it.  Every question on the test seemed impossible but when I looked at it again with well rested eyes everything made sense. The moral of the story is that everything seems impossible when you are behind on sleep while anything is possible when you're well rested. 

 -         Stay Positive! Make sure not to be negative. No one likes a Debbie Downer. If you don’t believe in yourself then don’t waste your time thinking about how your going to fail. Place all your efforts in proving yourself wrong. 

 -         If you find yourself getting too stressed then workout. Go to the gym and walk/run. Do a workout video. Like Elle Woods said exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins makes people happy and happy people just don’t kill their husbands…or in this case fail their finals. 

 -         Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It would be a complete shame if you spent days studying for an exam but could only focus on your hunger pains come exam day. You need to keep your energy up to study and what better way to do that then by eating breakfast.

 Finals are hard on everyone but don’t give up. While the next two weeks don’t determine your future they do have a say. J Good Luck!!!
Nadi Nuhu is a sophomore biology major and a tutor in the Writing Center.
So, it’s that time of the year again. The smell of summer is in the air, yet those six papers hover ominously between now and the glory days of May. The complex writing process makes it unwise and difficult to knock out a paper in a single afternoon, as it requires more thought and care than cramming for a final. The dorm room or apartment is not always the best place to get the creative process flowing. Many students choose to make themselves at home in a coffee shop, using the easy accessibility of caffeine and the change in environment to stimulate brainstorming, writing, and final revisions. Luckily for Agnes Scott students, coffee shops are not hard to find in Decatur, many are within easy walking distance of the campus. Here are some pros and cons of a select few, from an admitted coffee shop addict:

Java Monkey

 Location: Across from the MARTA station in downtown Decatur

 Pros: Java Monkey is very well known and popular in the Agnes Scott and Decatur communities. Its hip atmosphere and delicious food/wine bar make this a good choice for writing a paper. Its close proximity to the school and late hours are also a bonus. Added pro: right next door to the Yogurt Tap!

Cons: The WiFi is kind of spotty. The lighting is also rather dim at night. If you’re someone who likes working in a quiet atmosphere, Java Monkey is not necessarily the best place for you, especially at night.

Dancing Goats

Location: Down Ponce De Leon Avenue, next to Taqueria Del Sol.

Pros: Dancing Goats is a large, airy coffee shop. At the front of the store, there are comfy leather chairs, but if you need more space there are plenty of larger tables at the back. The WiFi is excellent if you need the Internet for research or YouTube/Facebook distractions.

Cons: Its hours are pretty limited and it closes at 7 PM most nights, just when most Agnes students are getting started on their work. 

Café Cliche

Location: Down Ponce De Leon Avenue, just past Café Lily.

 Pros: Café Cliché has great food, ice cream, and sherbet in addition to coffee. It’s vegan friendly. It has great WiFi. It’s also not as well known, so it’s lower key than some of the other coffee shops in Decatur

Cons: It’s small inside, so seating is not always available. 

 ChocoLatte Café 

 Location: North Decatur Road, next to Rainbow Natural Foods

Pros: ChocoLatte Café has great WiFi and super comfy seating. It’s a little further away, so if you really want to escape the Agnes Scott/Decatur setting this is a good option. Lots of Emory students frequent this coffee shop. 

 Cons: It’s probably best to have a car to get to ChocoLatte Café.
Racheal Jenkins is a senior English Literature major and a tutor in the Writing Center
No, I do not advocate procrastination. Yes, I am fully aware that writing a clear, effective essay takes time. But let's face it- most of us have found ourselves in situations where we are too busy to spend weeks upon weeks plotting and crafting the perfect paper. Whether or not we like it, there are times when it's going to get written the night before it's due. If this is the case, don't panic! There are some things you can do to make sure the final product is not a mushy pile of nonsense. 

 -Calm down.

Stress is a dangerous enemy to the writing process. When I have a million thoughts and anxieties running through my head, there is no way I can accomplish anything. This problem is especially acute when I don't have much time to work with. To drive away stress, I suggest taking a few minutes to relax before you even consider putting pen to paper. Even if you feel like you are wasting time, it will pay off in the end. 

 -Just write.

I cannot count the number of times that I have sat in front of a computer screen for hours, typing and erasing the same words over and over again. This is not only unproductive, but also incredibly frustrating. After a while, I begin to think that I am no longer capable of forming a single coherent sentence, let alone enough of them to fill an entire paper. Recently, I have employed a new tactic. I force myself to write. Even if nothing I say makes any sense, my motivation is boosted tenfold when I see that I am making process. More often than not, the result is much better than expected, and only a few changes are needed at the end. 

 -Keep it simple.

If you're planning on pounding out a last-minute paper, chances are that you won't have much time to revise and rewrite. For this reason, it is best to organize it in the simplest way possible. Although the finished product may not be as creative as you would like, you will have a much better chance of not changing your mind and starting from scratch at the last minute. Use your instincts and group your ideas together in the way that makes the most sense to you. Save more complex, subtle styles of organization for essays you have plenty of time to finish. 

 -Thesis, thesis, thesis

Your thesis is the most important part of your paper, and even if you are in a hurry, it deserves some significant time. Personally, if I can manage to think of a really strong thesis, my paper tends to write itself. On the other hand, if I settle for a sub-par thesis, writing the paper is an excruciating experience. So even if you only have a few hours to write a paper, take as much time as you need thinking up a convincing thesis. Then, all you have to do is stick with it and relate all of your points back to it. 

While these tips may help you complete an assignment or two satisfactorily, remember that writing is a process. That means that it should not be accomplished in one night. Try as much as you can to budget your time so that you can fully embrace this process. Now get back to work, I know you're procrastinating!

Kelsey Clodfelter is a sophomore Writing Center tutor.