blank paper to write onIf there’s one thing you’ll have to do during your college years it is write. And write. And write. So how do you make sure what you write is meaningful and, better yet, earns you an “A” in the class? Here are some suggestions.

* Write often. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? You’re writing all the time in class, doing assignments, preparing papers. And that is making your writing better. The more you put pen to paper, the more you’re learning how to create short, effective sentences. The more you type, the faster you go and the better your ideas flow. Practice, in terms of writing, does make perfect.

* Edit, edit, edit. Don’t just write it, edit it. Check it over for clarity and style. Let someone else read it. Write it the night before (even if it feels too late) just to give your eyes a rest. When you come back to the material the next day, you can review it with a fresh perspective. Everything, including your word choices, will look different in the morning. And you’ll notice where your writing failed to clarify a point or even make sense.

* Let someone else read it. Granted, no one likes criticism. But everyone writes differently, and that can be a good thing. Find someone whose writing you respect, and see if they’ll look over a writing sample of yours. What do they notice? Are you using adjectives too often? Is your writing too flowery and not clear enough? Put your emotions in check for an hour and let the advice fly free.

* Be yourself. The best writers are those that “speak” like themselves, only it is on paper. Let your own natural flow show up in your writing. Just like few people wear suits to work any more, few people expect the King’s English when you write. Conversational style is current and relevant. So if you speak well, you likely write well. If you tell a great story, if people love your jokes, if you are popular at parties…you will make a good if not great writer.

* Accept writer’s block as a gift. Finally, if you feel stuck look at that white sheet of paper — or, for most people, that white computer screen — don’t worry about it. That means you just need a break, some M&Ms or some creative rejuicing. I personally chew gum when I get stuck during a story session. Giving my mind something else to concentrate on — such a chewing — tends to free up my creative side. And when I get creative, I get busy writing. Another trick is to write a sentence in another section that you will come back to later. Going at your writing from another perspective can sometimes free you up in the area that is troubling you.

Embrace your inner Plath, Wolfe or Hemingway. Get writing and enjoy it.

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