Let’s face it, not everyone is built to be a writer. The world just doesn’t work like that. For some, it’s just a general disinterest, and for others, the mechanics of writing are just too rote, or too hard to traverse. Maybe you liked it once, but had an overly-particular teacher who sapped all of the fun out of writing, or maybe you’ve hated it since your Kindergarten teacher sat you down with a wide-ruled sheet of paper and a big yellow pencil. That’s okay, all of it is, but now it’s important that we set all of that baggage aside to better understand something: You can learn to enjoy writing(or at the very least, make it tolerable), and beyond that, you absolutely can learn to write well.
A hard fact of college life is that no matter your major, you will be writing, and depending on what you study and what courses you take, you may well be writing a lot. As opposed to letting that reality drag your college experience down, let us explore some ideas that can turn writing from a chore into something more palatable.
The Problem with Procrastination
It’s best we don’t dwell here, because frankly, I’m sure we’ve all heard this hundreds of times, but it has to be said again anyway; it is important. The best way to have a worse time writing while simultaneously writing substantially worse is to put it off until the last possible minute. Doing this is not going to get you anywhere, and each time you torture yourself by cramming all of your writing work into a small block of time, you’re just going to convince yourself more and more that you hate writing. Give yourself time, at least a day per page. You’re almost certainly allotted that much time for writing a long paper, and that’s for a reason: I guarantee you won’t only write better, you’ll also feel better.
The Power of Proofreading
I find that a lot of people misunderstand the real purpose of editing and proofreading. When you go back to reread and touch up a piece of writing, you shouldn’t just be looking for surface errors like spelling and grammar mistakes, you should be looking to improve what you’ve written on the whole. Small tweaks to diction and sentence structure can make a world of difference to any piece of writing: While editing something you’ve written, really listen to how it sounds, and if you think of a way to improve your work, go ahead with it. No great work of literature has been written in just one draft, and the same can be said of great academic papers. Don’t be afraid to rework, it’s how you make something that was good into something that is great.
The Environment is Invigortating
This one is similar to the issue with procrastination, but it’s a touch more open ended, and definitely more personal. Your brain, and therefore your ability to write, responds and acts differently in different environments. Your thought patterns, your focus levels, your motivation, all of that changes from place to place. Ideally, you should find a place to work that is both relaxing and stimulating, but not distracting. Where and what this place is, however, varies entirely from person to person. Maybe it’s outside, maybe its in the library, maybe it’s by the side of the road. To find a place where you feel like you write best, you really just need to try things out. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a change of scenery every once in a while, it may well help move your writing along.
Abiding by these ideas, I think you will find that writing is more palatable, and that your writing will also improve more quickly. If you truly allow yourself to focus on your writing, and put enough of your time and effort in, I believe that you’ll find returns on your investment.