Hone your writing skills

Writing skills are essential for succeeding in school, college, and on the job. If essays and papers stress you out, keep in mind that writing is not just an end result, but also a process that helps you develop your ideas and think logically.

Get started

Begin by brainstorming topics, collecting information, taking a lot of notes, and asking a lot of questions. Keep your notes and sources organised as you go.

When developing your topic, look for patterns and relationships. See what conclusions

you can draw. Try discussing your ideas with classmates or your teacher.

Organise your writing

Develop an outline to help you stay on track as you write, identifying your main points and your conclusions. Keep in mind basic essay structure —

Introduction: Give your reader an idea of the essay’s intent, including a basic statement of what the essay will discuss.

Body: Present the evidence that supports your idea. Use concrete examples and avoid generalities.

Conclusion: Summarise and make sense of the evidence you presented in the body.

Draft your essay

You may find, as you write, that you end up with a different idea from the one you began with, be open to changing it. If necessary, rewrite your outline to get yourself back on track.

Other tips

Keep readers in mind: Write for the general reader, someone with average intelligence with a fairly sound, basic education.

Refine and proofread: When you’re done with the rough draft, take a break so you can come back to your writing with fresh eyes. Ask yourself —

• Is the writing clear?

• Do the ideas make sense?

• Are my ideas supported by evidence?

• Are all of my requirements fulfilled?

• Did I avoid repetition?

• Have I used proper grammar and spelling?

• How does it sound when read out loud?

Leave enough time to show your draft to others. A fresh perspective can help you polish your paper, and catch inconsistencies and mistakes.

Read more: What you read influences how you write and can become your teacher without your being aware of it. Keep this in mind when choosing between Teen People and challenging novels like Great Expectations.

Not sure what to read? If you liked a book you read in class, ask your teachers to recommend others like it, or read more by the same author.

Write more: The more writing you do, the better you’ll get.

And as your skills improve, so will your enjoyment. Here are a few ways you might want to consider —

• Keep a journal of your thoughts and the events of the day.

• Start a writing session with your friends on topics important to you.

• Send articles to magazines and newspapers you read.

And once you get into the habit of writing, no matter what kind of writing it is, papers and essays won’t seem as difficult.