Whether you have a penchant for writing or you’d rather eat worms before trying to write a 5-page paper, the chances are good that you’re going to need to write more than just a couple of papers during your college career. Most professors will have you write an essay or several at one point or another, and many classes require a rather long paper at the end of the semester as part of a final project or in place of a final.
The thing is, while writing might seem challenging to some, its a life skill that will keep giving back long after you’ve graduated. Many jobs feature some sort of writing, and at the very least, it will serve you well to have the skills to write a basic cover letter, a professional email, and a smart-sounding paragraph.
So how do you become a better writer? What do you do if grammar is your nemesis and words simply do not flow freely? We’ve put together a list of tips that will aid you in your journey to becoming a better writer and hopefully help take some of the pressure off when you have important papers to write.
1. Write often
No problem here right? When you’re in college, it might seem like you’re having to write things left and right! However, the way you go about writing things can make all the difference. Instead of waiting until the night before you have a big paper due for one of your classes to start the writing process, break things up over the course of several days. Take it in small chunks, and you’ll be less likely to get completely overwhelmed. Not only that, but leaving yourself some buffer will help you become a better writer because you’ll have time to proofread your work, make adjustments, and really flex those writing muscles.
You don’t have to rely on all your schoolwork for writing exercise! Start a blog, or get creative with your Instagram posts. Writing about things you enjoy can make a world of difference in the quality of your writing and your attention span while getting those words down on paper. The same goes for when you choose topics for papers. Unless you’re forced to write about a certain topic, do your research and choose a topic you’re actually curious about. It really does help!
2. Read often
This might seem like another no-brainer for college, but we know there’s a good chunk of you who are SparkNote-ing your way through college and skipping the actual “reading part.” 😉 Reading not only increases your language but seeing the way that other people write can help influence your own writing. While you might have a lot to read in your textbooks for school, try to take a bit of time each day to read a book for fun. Get some easy fiction from the library, or check out some classic literature that you feel excited about reading.
At the very least, subscribe to a few blogs you enjoy online or stay up to date with news and culture by reading a variety of articles on subjects you’re interested in. What you put into your mind might eventually come out in one way or another!
3. See a tutor
Colleges and universities do their best to set their students up for success. Most institutions have some sort of free tutoring service set up, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of it! Whenever you have a big paper due, set up an appointment to have a tutor look your first draft over and give you some pointers on everything from grammar to bigger picture elements you could improve. Many people learn better when they have one-on-one attention, and there’s really nothing you can lose by having another set of eyes look over your work.
4. Proofread and edit
Even the best writers need to take time to proofread. It’s easy to accidentally misspell a word, and oftentimes, our brains fill in words mentally that our fingers forget to type. By taking some time to read through your work after you’re finished writing, you’ll more than likely catch a couple of glaring mistakes that could have resulted in docked points from your professor. It’s a practice that’s well worth the extra 10 minutes of work!