Tips for College Writing

Here are some tips to improve your writing process. These tips may not always make writing less challenging, but they’ll help you understand the process of successful writers.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to write papers. Plan ahead. Successful writing requires multiple drafts and revision. Good ideas need to sit before you can improve them. So don’t pull all-nighters. Write in small doses. Take breaks to clear your mind. Don’t write a paper the night before it is due, even if your professor’s assignment allows you to do this. Remember: revise, revise, revise!
  • Writing is learning. Don’t worry about grades as much as your growth. Writing is a long-term skill. You can’t learn how to write overnight. Some assignments will go well. Others will not. Failure often offers better learning opportunities than success, so ask your professors how you might have written something differently when you do receive low grades.
  • Don’t blame the professor. Don’t blame yourself. Each writing assignment presents unique challenges. If you’ve taken the process of writing seriously, then you are on the road to success as a writer. Writing is learning. The Writing Center focuses on improving writing and learning. Grades are something else entirely. Your tutor won’t predict or project a grade.
  • Ask your professor what they want. Be sure to listen to your professor and take notes when they explain why they’ve chosen writing to help you learn particular material. Your chapter or unit could have ended in a memory-based multiple choice exam; yet it didn’t. Your professor specifically chose writing because writing allows you to manipulate and transform the information you’ve learned, and your professor wants you to do this. Ask questions. Take extra notes in the margins of the assignment sheet. These notes will help you overlay your goals with your professor’s goals as you write and revise.
  • Reading and writing are different in college. College often requires students to read multiple sources and synthesize or transform the information into a new idea or perspective. This college assignment is new territory for many students. Writing Center tutors can help students understand and select from the various strategies and purposes for reading and writing during college.