I am constantly striving to improve my writing capabilities and over the past few years, I have acquired a few tips that have helped me significantly.
- Create an outline. Do it! As a student learning how to write an effective essay, being organized is incredibly valuable. I personally undervalued the importance of this until I found that my essays were significantly improving when I mapped out the arguments in advance. Not only did this make my essay more organized, but it helped me keep a clearer head as I approached a topic.
- Do NOT leave your essay until the last minute. I’m certain you’ve heard this before somewhere. Maybe from every single teacher you’ve ever had. Well, this may come as a surprise but the act of planning to write your essay in advance may help raise your mark. Now don’t get me wrong, I have witnessed the true miracles that are the A+ essays written the night before. The main concern I have here, however, is that the situation is more stressful than it needs to be. While universities are definitely not known for having a relaxing atmosphere, completing your work in advance will help relieve some of the seemingly never-ending pressure. Next time you write an essay, try starting at least a week in advance (depending on the size of the essay you may find you need more time). With the extra time, you will feel less stressed, have more time to edit, and will more than likely sleep better before your next due date.
- Don’t just edit. Consider a re-write. We all have favourite topics we particularly enjoy writing about and naturally, there are some we avoid at all costs. However, this is university and your professor is bound to pick at least one book that makes half of the class die of boredom. For essays that focus on topics you do not like, re-writing can help you find flaws in your argument that you failed to notice the first time around. Additionally, the act of writing it again will help you understand the material better.
- Share. Ask your friends for advice. Have them read your work and give you some feedback. In exchange, look over their work and provide them with some constructive criticism. Of course, compliments are still always welcome as they both increase confidence and help writers understand what they are doing well. However, becoming a good writer also depends on your ability to analyze others work. So next time you exchange essays with a friend, give them both the negatives and positives in a constructive way that will help them improve their writing.
In no way did I develop a work ethic or writing skills overnight. In high school, I did the bare minimum in order to get by and pulled off fairly mediocre marks. I was terrified of presentations and did not particularly enjoy answering the teacher’s questions.
However, this attitude changed as I graduated from high school to university. Not immediately, of course. I did not wake up one morning with a pen in my hand and start completing all of my projects ahead of time and with effectiveness. My work ethic improved when I really started to consider what I want to do with life and how writing will help me get there.
I write to improve my skills, not to complete my next assignment.
Best of luck, fellow writers!