Tips and Tools to Becoming A Better Writer For College and Work
I love writing and have had a passion for writing since I was a child. It has always come natural to me, and it is not a chore to sit down and write. That’s probably the reason I am a blogger and enjoy blogging. I love challenging myself by writing on a variety of topics, expanding my vocabulary and always finding ways to improve my craft. Even though I am great at writing, it took a lot for me to get here. And if you’re not great at writing or want to improve your writing for school or work, these tips might be beneficial for you.
Tips for Writing Better College Essays
Writing an excellent college essay is a lot different than writing an excellent high school paper. What may have been great in high school may be sub-par in college. I think college helped me to improve my craft tremendously. I took every criticism as a learning curve and always did better on the next paper. Yes, the criticism may be a bruise to your ego, but it will make you a better writer for not only college but also in general.
Brainstorm and Outline
Do not jump right into your paper. Do brainstorm and outline the main argument and the evidence that will back up this argument. Brainstorming does not have to be an extensive process, but it does help to sort out your ideas and helps to find the best-supporting ideas for your paper.
Developing Your Thesis
The thesis is essential in a college essay. This is the focal point of your paper, and you will develop your whole paper around the thesis. Having a strong argument makes it easier to write an excellent paper. The thesis tells the reader what to expect in the paper, and the lack of a strong thesis will be a poorly written and unfocused essay.
The more that you read, the better writer that you will become. I know fitting in something to read on top of the textbooks can be a challenge but doing so can improve your writing. You can read novels, articles, blogs or other sources and while reading, you will notice the different writing styles in each category, learn more vocabulary and become a better writer.
Only get a peer to look over your paper if they are great at writing and have the grades to prove it. You need someone that is going to catch errors and pay attention to details. Usually, colleges have writing centers that you can go to so someone can look at your paper and make sure your paper is where it needs to be. If you’re an online learner like I am then this may be tough. If you can’t get to campus, you might have to rely on online tools. One online tool that I like to use is Grammarly because it thoroughly checks a paper and helps to correct any issues in the paper. Another tool to look into is Purdue University’s online writing lab because it has several tutorials.
Paraphrase not plagiarize
Plagiarizing is a serious offense in college. Many colleges are turning to online plagiarism checkers, so you want to be very careful. Yes, a person may make an excellent point that pertains your paper but do not copy their writing word for word. Instead, make that great point your own. You can always quote this great point in your paper and explain why that quote fit with your point. Always have a mix of quotations and your own opinions in your essay. Your professor wants to see your writing and not you hiding behind another person’s writing.
Proofreading is the most crucial tip to writing an excellent college essay. Poor spelling and grammar mistakes will be the death of your college essay. Do not rely on auto-correct or spellcheckers to pick up on everything. I like to use the online tool Grammarly because not only does it point out the mistakes but gives detailed explanations for those mistakes, so you don’t make them again. A professor may tell you an error that you made in your paper and not go into detail about the mistake.
Use An Active Voice instead of a Passive Voice
With active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb wheres with the passive voice, the subject receives the action. Using the active voice will make sentences more clear and concise for the reader. For example, write “the dog bit the child” instead of “the child was bitten by the dog.” Try to avoid using my and I unless it is a personal narrative. Try instead to be more general.
Tips for Writing Better At Work
You can use the same skills you learned in college and apply them to work to write great memos, emails, and other business documents. You can still become a great writer at work even if you did not go to college. It is important that your writing at work is clear and concise and as error-free as possible. Your writing may be going to executives, customers, co-workers or the general public. If writing at work is worrisome or you have trouble writing an excellent proposal, memo or email, then these tips will be helpful for you. The difference between poorly written essays in college versus poorly written business documents is that the poorly written document not only looks bad on you but also the company.
Build Your Vocabulary
Subscribe to a word of a day. A good vocabulary allows you to express what you mean as clearly and concisely as possible. Instead of a long rambling email, you can now have an email that shows what you mean in half the number of words used previously. E-mail is an essential form of communication in business, and you want to make sure readers understand the point of the email.
Reading makes you a better writer. Reading exposes us to other writing styles, voices and genres. It also shows us writing that may be better than our own which will help to improve your writing. Reading can also help to find inspiration, learn new information, expand vocabulary and gives a better understanding of language.
Since you may not have time to do a lot of drafts of a business correspondence as you do with a paper, you want to read aloud before sending. Reading aloud will help to zone in on grammatical mistakes that you might have overlooked.
If you’re not comfortable having a peer or even your boss read your writing, check out online tools. One tool that I suggest is Grammarly because it is like having a personal editor. I not only use Grammarly for college papers but for business correspondence as well. This tool makes sure everything that you type in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, any other apps you may use, and even text messages are effective and error-free.
Identify your audience
Know who you are addressing because the way that you write will vary depending on the targeted audience. In my previous position at AT&T, I had to write emails to customers, my managers, and co-workers. I learned the importance of varying writing styles when relaying information. You want to keep a professional tone in every piece of writing. Each audience is looking for different information, and the tone and writing style may be different depending on the audience.
Be careful with language
Avoid using slang, profanity and discriminatory language. This may seem like common sense, but I have received emails from co-workers using inappropriate language. Co-worker does not mean friend and your coworkers can potentially forward your writing to someone else in the organization. Also, note that writing in a business setting will require you to address individuals with varying backgrounds. In general, your writing should be free of sexist language or language that could offend a particular race, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or disability.
In general, these are the best practices for becoming a better writer in college and at work:
– Aim for a variety of sentence structures and vocabulary.
– Read to become a better writer.
– Practice so you can improve your craft.
– Avoid using filler words and get straight to the point.
– Use online tools like Grammarly to detect grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing.
– Avoid using words that you do not know. If you misuse a word, it discredits everything.
These are the tips and tools needed to become a better writer in college and at work. I know that it was a lot of information, but these are the things that I learned in college and on the job. Writing does not have to be painful, and you can become a more confident writer. I hope these tips and tools help you in college or your career. Please leave comments below on other tips and tools that you use to become a better writer.