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3 Tips For Efficient High School Writing

The art of writing is a valuable skill that generates immense rewards for those that work diligently at refining their craft. Whether one is a high school student, graduate student or working professional, writing well offers a multitude of benefits: clarity in thinking; refined conceptual understanding of various subject areas, and enhanced critical framing of particular ideas and philosophies. When the writing is going well, it is an extraordinary feeling and people, including myself, feel almost invincible. However, when it is not, it sometimes discourages even the best writers from moving forward. So, with 4 years of high school and 8 years of university-level writing under my belt, read below to find 3 quick tips for maintain a forward-push to beat nerves and complete any writing assignment. 

Tip #1: Write Out-of-Sequence

Many writing prompts follow a set sequence of opening paragraph (thesis), body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph. There are certainly times when following this set pattern makes sense and then, there are times when following this rubric to a tee seems to hinder your progress. For example, say the student is struggling to put together a convincing thesis paragraph but has clear direction in tackling the body paragraphs. It is advisable for the student to focus on the body paragraphs for a while before attempting the thesis section again, which not only increases confidence but also ensures that progress remains constant. Like all creative processes, sometimes your best writing outputs cannot and should not follow a linear process. In fact, certain writing assignments would benefit greatly from a looser approach that allow your instincts and latent insights, observations or discoveries to come through to sharpen the overall paper.

Tip #2: Time Yourself 
Setting a time limit has considerable advantages; it not only helps keep writers on task but also reduces the chance of overthinking. For those of a contemplative nature that find themselves “writing out” essays in your minds and struggle to get started, it may be useful to set 20-30-minute intervals to force you into action. These short bursts of intense writing often help you to parse through research and other observations much earlier on in the process, and most importantly, make re-writes much easier in later stages. Incorporating timed intervals as part of your writing process also helps to remove or reframe assumptions as your assignment moves from an inkling of an idea or stance to an evolving reality. 

Tip #3: Write It Out  

You are probably shocked by this suggestion, but really, it works! Yes, we are in the digital age and with that, countless tools to choose from in producing an array of projects. However, just as a designer hardly jumps straight into computer drawing or modeling when starting a project without at least a quick hand sketch beforehand, this too can help a struggling writer. As humans, we often forget that our fine motor skills training began with our hands, from clumsily to elegantly holding a pen or pencil to write sentences or draw our favorite animals or toys. Continuing to nurture this hand-eye coordination is vital to our thinking and making processes. I certainly do not advocate writing out 500-1000 word submissions before typing, but I find it helpful, when stuck or nervous, to go analog and quickly jot down paragraph or two to get ideas flowing. For you, it may just be a tricky sentence to push through, but whatever the context, it is always worthwhile to switch up and harness all the tools at your disposal to complete your work with clarity and confidence. 
Kweku A
Essay Writing & Editing Support
Kansas State University
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