Writing Hacks for Students


Advice from Brandeis Students

"Practice, practice. practice."

"Start writing your essay early then revise. revise. revise!"

"Take time to reread and revise."

"Use the writing center and talk to professors. They're there to help!"

"Read good writing. When you read good pieces of writing (or written works in the style that you wish to write in), you are teaching yourself how to write."

"Good readers become good writers."

"Read more. Read the well-written articles that are assigned to you and try to understand how they are constructed and the ways in which you can take some of the general methods and principles that these great authors use."

"Write about things that are actually interesting to you!"

"Practice writing in stages, create an outline and allow for sufficient time for a draft and revision."

"Focus on a development of ideas from start to finish, with a clear direction, returning to an original goal or idea without tangent."

"The most important part of writing is having a clear understanding of what you are trying to communicate. Having a clear thesis and outline are essential. Once you fully grasp the ideas you are presenting and their relation to each other--the relationship should be clear in the structure of the outline--it is merely a matter of writing. Writing with a purpose is easy. Writing as you attempt to understand your topic is hard."

"Set time apart every day to formulate ideas, outline, draft, revise, and finalize (whether alone or with the help of someone else or the Writing Center). Start right when you get the assignment, type a page every day, edit what you have, and then when it comes to the night before the paper is due, you don't have to stress as much!"

"Experiment with different brainstorming and editing techniques, like writing ideas and breaking down the paper on a whiteboard. Print out a draft of a longer paper that needs to be rearranged and cut and tape it to physically see how to arrange it."

"Edit, proofread, re-write, and talk to professors about your papers during the writing process. Get started early and make sure you have plenty of time. Outline and think out your organization and the logic behind your ideas before you start writing."

"Don't be afraid to go to professors for help, even if you don't have an idea for a thesis. Sometimes that's even the best time to go. The farther in advance you go, the more they'll be able to help you, so don't wait until the last minute. Also, bookmark all your favorite websites and save all the notes you have on formatting and citations."

"Make sure to read what you write out loud--it helps catch a lot of grammar mistakes and wordy sentences."

"Have someone peer edit the paper while pointing out what they think you need to work on."

"Be open to criticism. Writing can be personal, so make sure you don't take criticism personally. People just want to help you. Also, do not attempt to "sound smart" in your writing, as I've noticed many people here try to do. It WILL sound bad if you try to do this. Let your natural voice come through."