Strategies to Improve Student Writing Instantly
“I wish someone would write my essay for me!” Does this sound like you? Student writers may feel frustrated or even paralyzed by the requirements of an essay assignment. Below are three common student writing challenges, and solutions to help you begin and complete your essay.
How can I write my essay when I don’t know what I want to say about the topic? — Write what you know.
This advice is usually given to creative writers and suggests that you already possess the knowledge you need to be a successful writer. However, writing an essay is different from writing a story, because you will likely need to conduct research, and find information from expert sources. Still, some student essay writers find it all but impossible to get those first few words on the page. This strategy may help you begin your essay writing: write anything you can think of about your topic: facts, quotes, questions, ideas, etc. It needn’t be organized, or even correct, and may eventually be cut from your final draft, but getting something on the page is an important step in the process.
I handed in my completed essay, but the teacher still found mistakes! — Walk away and come back.
The feeling of finishing an essay is so satisfying that sometimes we forget to have one last read-through. When you think you have completed your final draft, turn off your computer and go for a walk, or take a break to clear your mind. If you can sleep on it, even better! Then read your essay once more, slowly. You will catch errors you missed the first time and spot areas for improvement.
I have too much research material, and I can’t write my essay until it is organized! — Use Index Cards to Keep Track of Sources
It sounds too easy, but a stack of multicolored index cards can help you organize your materials. Assign colored cards according to categories you choose, (facts, quotes, data sets, charts, and graphs, etc.) and tuck the cards in between the pages of journals and texts. Then, when you are writing, you will be able to locate quickly the information you need. If you are using online sources, handwrite the reference information and key points of the article on a card. It is very easy to forget to save a link, or reference information from online materials. Using the cards is an effective habit, if you prefer online research sources. They also provide evidence of the work you have done, should you ever need it. You may even use index cards as an organizational tool. Lay your completed cards on a table, and move them around into a logical order. This is like having an outline, and will help you plan your essay and determine materials that are unnecessary or unrelated.
Remember that writing an essay for college or university is an exercise in learning. It is important to do your best work, but part of the process is acquiring new skills and becoming a better writer with practice. Find the tricks and techniques that work for you, and you will never have to ask someone to “write my essay!” again.
Read more about essay writing on EssayPro blog.