Want your upcoming written assignment to be your best one yet? Use these six strategies to make the writing process smoother and yield better results:
- Read the material.
This sounds like no-brainer advice. However, the truth remains that busy (or lazy) students often try to cut corners. They believe attending class gives them a sufficient grasp, or they try to make do by looking at summaries rather than reading original texts.
Such tactics often backfire when it comes time to write. Having only dealt with general ideas, these students may find themselves with little to say because they failed to actually engage with the material. Instructors assign reading for a reason, so keep up with it.
- Brainstorm before starting.
Short on ideas for a paper topic? Rather than stare endlessly at a blank screen, start brainstorming! Without judgement, list any and every idea that pops into your head. Then, go back and evaluate for potential. Perhaps several entries support a similar idea. Maybe a small thought could be built up with a bit of research.
- Create an outline.
A map provides direction when driving. Make the route to a finished paper easier by using one on your writing journey, too. Jot your main point for each paragraph, and leave some room underneath. As you get ideas to support your claims, put them under the appropriate section. When you actually start writing, follow the outline.
- Don’t feel you must write paragraphs in the order they’ll ultimately appear.
If you possess a great idea for a segment of the paper, run with it rather than feel compelled to pen the opening first. Intros and conclusions often prove the most difficult parts to construct. However, they often turn into a breeze once the “meat” of the paper has been written.
Let the words flow where you’re certain of what you wish to say. Then, go back to write a polished first paragraph that introduces your ideas and a gripping last paragraph that ties things up.
- Understand how to cite sources.
A student’s paper must represent original work. However, writers may include the thoughts of others as a way of supporting their argument. When using words or ideas that aren’t your own, you MUST give credit where it is due. Instructors view failure to do so as plagiarism, and schools view that as serious offense. Thus, all college students need to familiarize themselves with procedures for how to cite sources in a paper.
Never try to fool a teacher by trying to pass off something another person wrote as your own. Professors possess a myriad of tools to scan text to see if it has appeared anywhere before.
- Leave time for revision.
Most students realize trying to write a paper the night before its due date is not the smartest idea. Not only does such a scenario prove stressful, it fails to allow time for polishing.
Very few people can write something to the best of their ability on the first try. When you finish writing your initial draft, put it aside for a day. Then, read it with fresh eyes. Does it make sense? Which ideas need better support? Do you use strong verbs or rely consistently on forms of “to be” (such as “is” and “are”)?
After making improvements, read through one last time. Proofreading will ensure you didn’t introduce errors when editing. Then, run the document through spellcheck and submit it with confidence!