Ways to Develop Your Writing Skills as a Student
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to develop your writing skills as a student. You’ll find out how to:
– Improve your writing
– Organize your thoughts and ideas
## Improving Your Writing
One of the most important things you can do to improve your writing is to get feedback on your work. You can get feedback from a variety of sources, including your teacher, your parents, your friends, and yourself.
## Getting Feedback from Your Teacher
Your teacher is the best source of feedback you can get on your writing. Your teacher is there to help you become a better writer, and she wants to see you succeed. If you’re having trouble with a particular assignment, ask your teacher for help. She may be able to give you some ideas on how to approach the assignment, or she may be willing to work with you one-on-one on the assignment. Either way, she wants you to succeed, so she’ll be more than happy to help.
If your teacher isn’t willing to help with your writing, don’t take it personally. You may need to find a different teacher who’s more willing to get to know you as a person and who’s willing to spend time helping you improve your written work.
## Organizing Your Thoughts and Ideas
If you want to write well, you need to know how to organize your thoughts, ideas, and information. You need to have a plan before you start writing, so that you know what you’re supposed to write about and how you’re going to do it. You also need to make sure that your ideas are organized in such a way that you can easily find them when you need them. This chapter shows you how to do both of these things, as well as how to avoid the most common mistakes that students make when organizing their thoughts and writing their essays and papers.
If you have trouble organizing your thoughts or ideas when you write, you may be suffering from executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction is a condition in which a person has problems organizing his or her thoughts and actions. For more information on executive dysfunction, check out Executive Dysfunction For Dummies.
This chapter also introduces you to the topic of outlines. An outline is a step-by-step plan for writing an essay or paper. Outlines help you organize your ideas and help you keep your thoughts organized as you write. In the following sections, you find out what an outline is, how to create an outline, and how to use an outline to write your paper.
Note: This chapter assumes that you’ve read Chapter 1 and that you’re familiar with the basic rules of grammar and punctuation that you’ll need to use when writing your papers and essays. You should also be familiar with how to spell and punctuate the words that you use in your essays. (If you’re not familiar with these basic rules, you can find out more about them in Chapters 3 and 4 of this minibook.) If you haven’t done so already, go back and review Chapters 1 and 2 of this book to refresh your memory about the basics of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage.
You may think that an outline sounds like a lot of work, but it isn’t. You don’t have to write an outline before you begin writing your paper or essay. In fact, you don’t even have to do any writing before you write your outline. You just have to think about how you want your paper to be organized. When you’re done thinking about your outline, you simply write the outline and then write the rest of your paper based on the outline you’ve already created. The outline you create is the foundation for your paper, so it’s very important that you do a good job of creating an outline that’s organized and easy to follow. (For more information about outlines, see the section “Creating an Outline for Your Writing,” later in this chapter.)
You may find it helpful to write down your outline on a piece of paper before you actually start writing. Doing so helps you to keep your outline organized and makes it easier for you to refer to your outline when you’re writing your essay. (You may want to keep a copy of your outline in a binder or on your computer so you can refer to it at any time during your writing process.)
The following sections introduce you to some of the ways in which you can develop your organizational skills as you prepare to write a paper or an essay. You find out about these organizational skills in the order in which they appear in the following list. (Keep in mind that this list is not in any particular order of importance; you may find some of these skills more important to you than others, depending on your personality and the type of paper you’re preparing to write. If that’s the case, feel free to skip ahead to the section of this chapter that deals with the skill that you think is most important to your writing ability.)
Organize your ideas. One of the first things you should do when you start thinking about writing a paper is to make a list of the main ideas that you plan to include in your paper (see Figure 2-1).