Write With a Plan

Girl writing in a notebook on the Quad

Good writing takes time, and it’s always a challenge. That’s true whether you are writing an essay, a research paper, or a poem.

Don’t panic. Consider these tips when you are approaching a writing assignment.

  • Read the assignment. Several times. Review the syllabus. Know what the paper is worth in terms of a percentage of the final grade.
  • Jot down ideas. Address every part of the assignment.
  • Divide the paper into manageable pieces. Don’t try to write it all at once.
  • Print the first draft and read it out loud. Mistakes become clear when spoken.
  • Get a writing buddy and work together. Review one another’s work. You can really help each other. It’s easier to see the holes in someone else’s work than in your own.
  • Be clear and concise. Don’t write to hit a word count or page limit. Repetition is not the same thing as support for an argument. Use fewer words when fewer words will do. The point is to make an argument, to provide information in support of that argument, and to synthesize that information.
  • After writing a draft, step away from it. The brain will continue working even while away from it. Give yourself time to go back to it.
  • Edit and rewrite. One-and-done is not enough. Your first draft of a paper is just that: a first draft. No matter how good you think it is, it still needs work.