Some people, it seems, are natural born writers and are able to crank out essay after essay with great ease. Others, unfortunately, seem to struggle putting their thoughts into words.
However, for better or worse, classrooms routinely call upon students to showcase what they’ve learned through writing. This makes written communication an essential part of education at all levels.
So, whether you’re a natural writer wanting to hone the craft or someone struggling to write the perfect paper, here are a few general writing tips to help you do the best you can with your assignments.
Study Your Assignment: If you are given an assignment in writing, take note of the words and phrasing in the assignment itself and use it in your writing. If you are given it verbally, pay attention to how what the instructor says. Using keywords and phrases from the assignment will help you give the instructor exactly what they want and stay on topic while doing so.
Start with Your Research: If your assignment requires research, it can be tempting to look up things as you write. However, it can be very difficult to find the exact passage you need or the exact fact for a paragraph. It’s generally easier to find the research you need and write to it than do the reverse.
Draft an Outline First: Before starting the first draft, you should consider writing an outline. Even if it is just a few lines indicating key points you want to hit, an outline makes it easier to stay focus and to break your essay up into sections. This is useful for both organizing longer assignments and deciding what to keep or remove from shorter ones.
Write Simply and Plainly: It’s often tempting to write flowery, complex prose to impress instructors. However, that often leads to misusing words, writing confusing sentences and generally making your paper more difficult to read. Only use complex words and lengthy sentences when necessary. Impress with your information, not your vocabulary.
Read Your Writing Out Loud: Take a few moments to read anything you write out loud to yourself. If anything sounds awkward when you say it, it will sound awkward when others read it. It can be difficult to do this in your head, but reading it out loud forces you to slow down and listen.
Get Help Editing: In addition to reading your work out loud, the value of having someone else edit your work can not be overstated. It’s easy to be blind to your own mistakes because you know what you meant to say. A fresh pair of eyes can catch what yours will so easily miss.
Read Your Instructor’s Marks: When you get your paper back, regardless of the grade, read and study your instructor’s marks. Even if you disagree with the marks, they can help you do better in future assignments is to learn from previous missteps.
Beyond all of this, the biggest key to writing well is simply practice. Writing is like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you will become at it. So, if you are struggling, don’t just consider seeking the help of a tutor, also considering joining a writing group that will let you write and have your work reviewed regularly.
While going through the writing process can be tiring, it’s the only way to get better at it. Still, the tips above can give you a head start and help take your current work to the next level, which could be exactly what you need to get the grade you want.