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Writing Tips for Assignments and Essays

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Writing can seem daunting at the beginning, but often it is starting the process that is the most important. Once you align your focus to a particular topic, or you know what you want to say, the process unfolds a lot easier. Whether it is a scientific write-up, a reflective essay, or a piece of critical academic writing – there are general ways to approach the writing process that can facilitate the journey for you and enable you to reach the best version of your draft. Here are some things to consider before starting your next writing assignment: Start Planning ASAP
As soon as you start reading or gathering the information you need to start actively reflecting on the material – make side notes and highlight important or interesting details. Making your own unique connections as early as possible will:
1. Help you form a unique viewpoint that will allow your writing to stand out and
2. Make the planning process a lot easier.

Start the First Draft Early
This gives you time to restart (several times) if necessary. It also gives you time to ask your tutor or lecturer to have a look at it and give you feedback if they are willing. If not, a fellow classmate or friend. But to do this, you need to have completed your draft well in advance as tutors and lecturers are often busy with their own deadlines. They will likely be much more willing to be of aid should you approach sooner, rather than when everyone else is most likely bombarding them with queries just before the deadline!

Use Simple Language
Ask yourself, what am I really trying to say?
Make sure your essay is more than legible – it needs to be accessible to even the laziest of readers. By making reading as easy (and hopefully entertaining) as possible, you allow the reader to understand what you are saying. Think about a time you have been fully engrossed in reading a piece of writing. The writing most likely did not draw attention to itself. It was seamless – allowing you, the reader, to fully absorb the content.

Grammar and Proofreading
Be pedantic.
Look up synonyms for frequently repeated words. We tend to use the same words or jargon when we write. Ask someone else to have a look at your writing to flag any typos or basic errors you may have missed. Revise your grammar rules if you are uncertain about something. A quick Google search usually suffices.

Take a Break and Come Back to It
Distance is key to identifying grammar and language errors. When you return to your work after not reviewing it for a day or two, you will be more able to spot grammar errors or any areas that need work.

Learn From your Heroes
Find a piece of writing that you hold in high esteem within the genre you are working on. Analyze their structure, language, and layout – then, try to replicate this format in your own work.

Creative Twists
Once you know the basics are all sorted maybe bring in a hint of creativity where you can – like a clever pun or an insidious title. So long as it doesn’t take away from the academic merit, there is no reason you shouldn’t provoke in order to keep the reader’s attention.

Writing is a process. It can take hours to plan, write, edit and re-write until you are completely satisfied with your work. One could say writing is all about time, which makes planning in advance and minimizing distractions key to a good piece.

Sameeah is currently studying her honours in English. Aside from literature, she is passionate about architecture, design and sewing. As a young entrepreneur she sews clothing to order and various vegan/vegetarian food items under her brand Mog & Milo.
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