Ever try to write an essay, report or important letter and find yourself frustrated?
In my work with students and adults (of all educational backgrounds), I find a nearly universal theme — how difficult many people find the writing process. This may be partly due to the differences between our less organized, less specific speech and what is expected in written text.
Some of the frustrations I hear:
“I don’t know where to start?”
“I don’t seem to be able to get to the point.”
“What I write never looks as good the next day.”
These are frequent issues people raise, difficulties even professional writers face at times.
One of the keys to being a good writer is organization: Consider what you want to say and plan your writing before you begin.
I’ve written about strategies for planning and organization in previous articles on “being an effective speaker” and some of the points I raised in these entries apply here as well. You may want to read two of my previous blog articles: “#1 Tip for Making a Good Presentation, ” Part 1 and Part 2.
Consider your purpose: What is the point of your piece, or in academic terms, what is your thesis statement?
Once you’ve jotted down the idea in one or two clearly written sentences, consider the key points or information that supports your main idea.
Make an outline: This is your map, your guide. You can change the outline (and your thesis) if you find the writing moves in another direction. Sometimes it’s the actual process of writing that helps us figure out what we’re really trying to say.
Be willing to write drafts: Rarely is our first attempt our finished product. Most people need to edit for sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Proofread out loud: While annoying, this is the best way to catch errors and to be sure you’ve written what you intended, not just what’s in your mind.
Check back soon for more specific thoughts about drafts and proofreading techniques for writing, as well as articles on speech and language, communications and executive functioning.