You’ve got a deadline next week. Maybe you’ve written nothing, or maybe you’ve written plenty, but you know it’s not good enough. How can you improve your writing before that deadline hits?
Tempting as it is to pretend it’s not happening, the deadline’s not going anywhere. If you’ve got all the ideas and the arguments in your head, but know you need some help to put them into engaging, grammatically sound words, read on. Here are 5 ways to improve your writing quickly and make sure you ace that essay even when you’re short on time.
Keep a journal to improve your writing every day
Writing a journal is a fantastic way to improve your writing. Because you’re writing about your own life, writer’s block tends not to hit. Every evening, sit down for 15 minutes (or longer!) and write freely about the events of your day. Even if all you did was watch Netflix, write about it.
The idea is to get some words on the page, without pressure. This helps you improve your writing by getting you in a writing habit, giving you an easy way to analyse your work. Don’t worry about grammar or style while you’re writing, but when you’re done, look over your work and see how it could be improved. If there are particular things you know you struggle with, keep an eye out for them. You could also check your writing against your university’s style guide to see how it measures up.
It’s worth staying in the journal-writing habit even after your deadline’s passed, as it’s a great way to improve your writing, year after year.
Improve your writing by being leaner…learn the art of cutting down
When you’re struggling to make a word count, it’s tempting to add in lots of filler words just to make your essay longer. Don’t do this. Good writing is about saying what you need to without using unnecessary words. Take a look at your last essay and see where you have could cut words without losing meaning.
Cutting words out that you don’t need actually helps convey more meaning, as the extra words tend to get in the way of your argument. It’s one of the easiest ways there is to improve your writing. Phrases like ‘on the other hand’ and ‘in addition’ are usually unnecessary, so take them out. In academic writing (and writing in general), adjectives and adverbs aren’t often needed. To improve your writing, take them all out, and then work through, one by one, to see which (if any) you want to put back.
Critique with a friend to improve your writing, and theirs
Good writers know how to take and give constructive criticism. Improve your writing by finding a friend you trust and spend some time together critiquing each other’s work. You don’t need to get bogged down in technical grammar points – look instead at whether your friend understands the arguments you’re making and whether they think the work flows well.
They don’t have to be studying the same subject as you – in some ways, it might be better if they aren’t. If someone with no knowledge of your subject can understand your writing, it’s probably pretty good.
Set yourself a creative challenge to improve your essay writing
Improve your writing by making writing fun. Indulge in a bit of creative writing of some kind – whether a short story, or poetry, or creative non-fiction. If you’re stuck for ideas, you could be inspired by a novel you love, or scan the news websites for an interesting story that could be rewritten as fiction. Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it. Don’t spend time analysing it – just enjoy playing around with words and building your confidence to improve your writing.
Improve your writing by learning to proofread
Writing is only half the battle. Learning how to proofread effectively is the other half of the work you’ll need to do to improve your writing. Many students forget to build in time for proofreading and hand in essays full of errors as a result. This makes you look careless and could lose you marks.
Don’t allow this to happen. If you’re not a confident proofreader, either see if you can find a friend to help or think about using our proofreading service. But, however you do it, make sure it happens if you really want to improve your writing.