How to be a successful writer: Tips for college students

If you have been struggling with writing your college papers, know that you are not alone. Writing can be daunting and academic writing is even more fraught. No, your struggles with writing do not reflect your intellectual abilities. Even the best of scholars and researchers sometimes struggle to write excellent academic papers. So, how can you be a successful writer, especially in college? We have put together some tips below. 

Understand the assignment 

The first step to delivering a good paper is understanding what the assignment requires. What are you required to write about? Do you have a topic in mind? What audience are you writing to? Read the instructions as many times as you need to and highlight key points. It may be helpful to break down the instructions into questions which you can then address separately to build your main idea. It is also essential to understand the technical requirements of the assignment, that is, the font, format and style, the number of sources, deadline, method of submission, and length of paper, among others. 

Always start with an outline

It is easy to overlook the importance of an outline, especially when you are pressed for time. However, an outline is essential to your writing because it provides you with the blueprint to guide you as you write. An overview ensures that your paper has a clear structure and flow of ideas. Writing an outline need not be difficult. First, identify the ideas that you intend to base your article on. Next, group these ideas into categories so that the ideas flow logically and seamlessly. Finally, make headings and subheadings for your outline. 

Write a strong thesis statement 

The thesis statement is one of the most critical parts of an academic paper. This is because the entire essay should be centered on the thesis statement – the main idea. Avoid general comments and instead narrow down on one main clear idea that clearly expresses your position. Remember that everything you write after the thesis statement should support this thesis statement and show your reader why they agree. 

Start big and bold

The first paragraph – the introduction – could make or break your writing because it is the first part anyone reads. You want to make sure you clearly state the purpose of your paper. Start with a good hook that will grab your reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading. A good introduction is hooking but also short and straight to the point. One paragraph will suffice in most cases. 

Use verbs to your advantage 

Take your academic writing a notch higher by using strong, active verbs throughout your paper or essay. Use a mix of action verbs, auxiliary verbs, and modal verbs in your writing while paying attention to their proper applications. 

Connect your topic sentences to your thesis

As stated earlier, the thesis statement forms the main idea of your paper and should always be referred to throughout the paper. Every topic sentence in the main body of your paper should connect to the thesis somehow for the reader to always remember the discussion. This gives your paper a clear focus and reinforces the arguments that you put forth in the introduction. 

It is okay to seek help

Academic writing is hard, but you need not struggle when you cannot seem to get it right or do not have the time to sit down and write scholar-level papers. If you are feeling stuck or are running out of time, please visit a professional academic writing service

Correct grammar

Your writing should portray you as an intelligent and analytical student. Use Standard English and avoid minor grammatical errors that will take away from the value of your paper. Check your spelling, and do not be afraid to confirm the correct spelling online if you need to. Know your tenses and do not mix them up. This will undermine the quality of your paper regardless of how strong your arguments are. 

Stick to a formal tone

Academic papers are formal, and so you cannot use slang or jargon in your paper. Do not overuse italics. Never use multiple exclamation points or question marks in academic writing. Avoid using all caps or underlining words and phrases. It may be tempting to try and use these tools for emphasis, but they will only work against you. Avoid verbosity, and flowery language, as these will make your paper sound a lot less formal. 

Use proper punctuation

Today, college students operate in a world of instant messaging and text messaging, which can sometimes influence their writing. Proper punctuation is vital to your paper. Use just enough. 

Provide evidence

It is one thing to write a good thesis statement and organize your thoughts. However, to improve the quality of your paper, you must provide evidence that supports your opinions. Provide as much data and information as possible from both primary and secondary sources. This is where your research skills will be put to the test. 

Cite your sources

It is easy to commit academic fraud if you ignore your sources as you research your paper. Always cite any borrowed or paraphrased ideas to avoid plagiarism. Remember to note in the correct format and always stick to one citation and referencing style. Citing your sources not only helps you avoid committing plagiarism but also gives your paper more authority. An excellent academic paper supports its arguments using reputable researchers and scholars’ work, so borrowing ideas is part of the academic writing process. 

Summarize your thoughts in a reasonable conclusion

Finish your paper by writing a short, concise, and firm conclusion that ties all your ideas together and presents your conclusion. Your conclusion should be no more than one paragraph and should not introduce any new ideas. It provides a summary of what the paper discusses but also refers back to the thesis.  

Being a successful writer is about understanding the game’s rules and using them to achieve what you love on your terms.