The writing process is complicated. You can easily get into a flow and churn out thousands of words in a couple of hours. On the other hand, it can also happen that you suffer from writer’s block for months. When you’re a student who needs to submit essays regularly, it’s important that you find a constant source of motivation and productivity and not jump between these two extremes.
In this article, we’re bringing you 10 tips that will help you write faster, better, and more often. Apply these tips to improve your academic performance, upgrade your writing, and start learning and thinking more clearly!
1. Read other essays
This is a well-known bit of advice for any activity or skill. If you want to get better at something, look at how other people are doing it, especially professionals. However, make sure you focus on actual essays. Today, we are bombarded with tons of different types of content.
Reading a lot in just one category can actually divert you from clear and effective essay writing. For example, if you read a lot of news, you might be swayed into their writing style full of jargon, sensationalism, and cliché phrases.
2. Do plenty of research beforehand
Research is the mother of preparedness when it comes to writing. If you are well-informed about a particular topic, writing should be a breeze. When you feel like you can’t structure your thoughts well or you’re not really sure whether you’re on-topic, continue researching and then come back to the text itself.
3. Learn about the structure
Most essays have a fixed structure. This is not meant to hinder your creativity and freedom. Rather, fixed structures serve as a guideline to direct both you and your reader through different sets of ideas. The general outline for an essay is:
- Introduction – where you spark interest in the topic and pose some of the general questions you will be dealing with
- Body – where you lay out your central points, arguments, and examples
- Conclusion – where you sum up everything you have explained in the body of the essay
4. Take advice and learn from experts
Get yourself a teacher. For example, you could try MyEnglishKit.com for help with your IELTS writing and speaking.
5. Use writing prompts and exercises
When you’re feeling stuck, or you don’t know how to start writing, try using prompts or vocabulary exercises. Merely thinking and reading about writing can help you improve your writing process. Online, you can find a lot of great essay introduction prompts that can help you get those first few sentences down to paper. After you see that scary blank page is no longer so empty, it will be much easier to continue writing in a more relaxed manner.
6. Don’t be a perfectionist
If you want to write an essay fast, perfectionism is your number 1 enemy. Don’t set the bar too high when it comes to quality. This doesn’t mean that you should be satisfied with poor text quality. What we mean is that you shouldn’t allow these high expectations to block you from writing in the first place.
7. Don’t do real-time editing
A common symptom of perfectionism in writing is real-time editing. It’s the type of editing where you stop mid-sentence and start editing what you have written so far. Also, you might stop after every sentence you write and edit what you’ve just written. This is excruciating, both time and motivation-wise.
8. Get feedback and critique
A great way to improve your writing and step out from some of your common patterns and mistakes is to hear what someone else thinks of your essay. Of course, you shouldn’t take any negative remarks personally, but rather as helpful suggestions of what you could improve. A second set of eyes is a great writing improvement tool.
9. Find your own tempo and flow
The quality and enjoyment of the writing process are heavily influenced by external factors. You might find that you write better as soon as you wake up, or in the middle of the night. You might find that coffee helps you concentrate or that it makes you too jittery to sit down and write. Also, you might experiment and find that different environments, such as a coffee shop, help stimulate you for writing.
Finding the perfect formula among all these things is crucial if you want to improve your essay writing in the long-term. It’s like the Pareto principle: when you’re fresh and motivated, you will do 80% of your writing work in 20% of the time. It’s definitely more valuable to find when and why these most productive 20% periods come than to waste time when you don’t actually feel like writing.
10. Battle procrastination and writer’s block
Finally, we have come to one of the most important aspects of improving your writing. Namely, if you want to start writing faster, better, and smarter, you have to learn how to fight the common issues of procrastination and writer’s block.
Whether you like it or not, these periods will happen. However, there will be moments in your life when it’s highly unadvisable to procrastinate, but you choose to do just that. To combat this bad habit, you need to get down to its roots. Find out what’s causing your procrastination and writer’s block before you continue working on the deeper levels of your writing process. (Hint: A common cause of procrastination is perfectionism.)
As you can see, there are plenty of techniques you can use to improve your essay writing. Work on your vocabulary and style, read a lot, experiment, and you will find the perfect formula for working in no time.
Which of these tips have you heard about before? Have you applied any of these into your writing process?
About the author: Daniela McVicker has a master’s degree in English Literature, and she is truly passionate about learning foreign languages and teaching. Daniela works with the students helping them to reveal the writing talent and find the true calling.