by Miriam Mezzetti
Writing a paper can be challenging, but there are some good habits that can help you to write more efficiently and effectively!
- Start Writing Early. While the pressure of an approaching deadline can be inspiring, it is also very stressful and not conducive to quality writing or good sleeping habits. Give yourself ample time to draft and revise.
- Research Smarter, Not Harder. It is common knowledge that Wikipedia and most sources available via Google or another search engine aren’t acceptable sources (especially if your professor is asking for primary sources), but physically traveling to a library and browsing for books can be inconvenient and time-intensive. The solution? The Consortium Library website has a very useful database of thousands of scholarly sources. It even provides citations for your bibliography in several common styles, including MLA and APA. Additionally, if there is no online copy of the book you are looking for, you can borrow it through the Consortium Library website and pick it up in the ASC right here on campus! Another helpful resource for students is Google Scholar.
- Create an Outline & Bibliography First. One of the best cures to writers’ block is good organization. Once you’ve made your outline, and selected sources, drafting a paper will be much easier! If you already know what you want to say and which sources you want to cite, there is less of a chance that you will experience any dreaded writer’s block while writing.
- Draft in the Right Style. Whether your professor asks you to write in a certain style, or you are choosing your own, try to stick to that style while you write. The closer to the finished product that your draft is, the less time you will need to spend combing through your writing and revising style errors.
- Ask For Help. There are many complementary tutoring services available to students who wish to become better writers! Being proactive about your education by using all of the academic resources available to you will help you to succeed at becoming a better writer. Our APU Academic Support Center tutors are available during the week on campus. If you are taking an online class and can’t make it to campus for the tutoring hours, SLED’s online tutoring resource may be useful to you. Lastly, if you can meet with your professor at his or her office hour(s), then do so! Your professor can help clarify assignments or give personalized feedback on your writing.
- Revise When Possible. Some professors will give you the option to revise a finished essay after you receive their feedback. Even if you got an A on your essay on the first draft, consider revising if you have the time to do so! Making revisions will help you to internalize your professor’s feedback on your writing, which will help you to become a better writer!
- Celebrate and Repeat! Don’t forget to relax for a bit and celebrate your writing accomplishments after you have completed a difficult project. Go for a hike, ski APU’s trail system, watch Netflix, or play a game. Not only will celebrating after you complete a big project reduce your stress and make writing a more positive experience, it can help motivate you and can give you something to look forward to after the completion of an essay.
For more tips, and for personalized assistance with your writing, you can meet with one of APU’s helpful writing tutors.