Everyone remembers the experience of staring at a blank page, unsure of where to begin with the most recent writing assignment—myself included. I recall having ideas buzzing around in my head, but when I tried to write them down, they seemed convoluted and disorganized. Words would somehow find themselves on the page, but to no purpose.
Being an effective writer does not happen overnight; it truly is a “process.” Although, it took time for me to understand exactly what that meant.
The “process” of writing
Perhaps the most important thing I learned throughout my educational experience was that identifying a thesis or opinion at the beginning is crucial. I began to think of every essay like a scientific proof or hypothesis, where I stated what I believed and then spent the rest of the essay proving it to my audience, the reader.
The writing prompt simply became a series of questions that must be answered. I strived to answer these questions by searching for evidence throughout the text(s) to support my beliefs; I kept detailed notes of all that I found.
Organizing evidence was trickier. I was once told by my high school English teacher that we must write as though our audience has almost no knowledge of the subject. I kept this advice in mind with every essay I wrote. I drafted outline after outline; I strived to survey my organizational structure from the perspective of an outsider. After so many outlines, I was ready for my draft, but this was not where the “writing process” ended. The last step—revision—then took practice.
The value of peer review
My college professors often asked us to conduct peer reviews as the first step in revision. This practice was an invaluable lesson in how to revise my own work. Because it is difficult to maintain objectivity with our own work, I found it helpful to take a step back and revisit essays after a day or two.
Admit no defeat!
Writing is a process that takes time to master. Learn from your mistakes and use your teachers as guides to help you improve your work.
Writing: tips and tricks
Below, are some tips to keep in mind each and every time you sit down to write an essay.
- Write with purpose.
- Remember your audience.
- Map out your essays before you begin writing.
- Be sure to have textual evidence to support your purpose.