Top 10 Tips for Better Writing
If you’ve been away from school for a while, the thought of writing a paper may be scary. Believe it or not, you have important and worthwhile ideas that are just begging to come out and be heard. Here are 10 quick and easy tricks to tap your creativity and bring out the writer within.
1. Jump In!
Don’t let writer’s block stop you. Just start typing. If you’re stuck, write about feeling struck. Describe what you’re struggling with. Talk about your nerves. It doesn’t matter what you write – just begin. The act of writing clears your mind, and eventually you’ll hit on something valuable you want to keep and share.
2. Explain Yourself
Don’t assume your reader knows everything you know. Explain everything in detail, from beginning to end. Even if you think it’s already clear, look for opportunities to clarify some more. The best papers start by telling the audience what they’re about. Then they talk about it. Then they tell the audience what they just told them.
3. Three Is the Magic Number
Not sure how many points to make or examples to use? Go with three. Why? It all comes down to the way people process information. We have become proficient at pattern recognition by necessity, and three is the smallest number of elements required to illustrate a pattern or prove a point.
4. Read It Out Loud
Before you turn in a paper, read it out loud to yourself. Even better, read it to a friend or partner. Your ears can detect mistakes and phrases that don’t make sense that your eyes skip over.
5. Reread the Assignment
Before you start writing, check the assignment instructions and make sure you understand what you’ve been asked to do. Use the instructions as an outline to organize your paper. When you’re done with your first draft, double-check the assignment. Did you cover everything you need to get an A?
6. Sound Professional
This is college, right? So avoid slang, clichés, and contractions. Try not to be too conversational, and strive for specific words and academic language.
7. Give Context
Your quotations should never stand alone. They’re like balloons – if you don’t tie them down, they float away. Instead, introduce the quote you’re about to use. After the quote, explain what it means.
8. Practice All the Time
Develop the habit of writing formally and correctly in email, tweets, posts, and texts, even to friends. It’s hard to break a good habit!
9. Save the Intro for Last
Don’t get bogged down on writing a perfect introduction. Your paper’s topic will shift anyway. So wait to write your intro paragraph until after you’ve finished your first draft – that way you’ll know for sure what your paper is really about.
10. Read More
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – William Faulkner
Follow these tips and watch your college papers improve!
Written by Ashford University staff