Becoming a Good Writer
BY JULIA XIAO '24
Previously, you may have seen “Signs You’re Bad at Writing” in The Spectrum’s Back-to-School edition. Sadly, Professor George Ji, my coauthor, has since dropped out of the business. Last I’ve heard, he moved to a faraway island to hide from the world’s abundant bad writing. That’s why I’m here today: to lead you on the path of recovery and fix your writing. Behold, here are five tips—three for academic writing and two for creative writing.
School writing #1- You actually start a good amount of time before the deadline. Yes, the single most important tip is this obvious. You’ve been told time and time again to start before the deadline for good reason, and it’s so that you have room to improve over time rather than turning in a desperate brain dump. There’s really no way to create an overnight masterpiece.
School writing #2- miscellaneous. Clarity. Good organization and wording. These things are all important but we don’t have space to take a deeper look. Good luck <3. Just kidding. Improve by asking yourself, ‘what idea am I really trying to communicate?’ Keeping a focus in mind prevents rambling.
School writing #3- fast writing. Taking forever to write your assignment is not ideal because ain’t nobody got three hours a day to write and still balance other tasks. You’re not meant to agonize for too long. I suggest brainstorming for around five minutes and then writing whatever flows into your brain. You can clean up your ideas later. Also, you can try changing the time of day that you write: maybe it’s stronger as the first thing you do after getting home, or maybe it’s better as the last thing of the day.
Wow. I’m really sounding like your English teacher aren’t I. Moving on, our next section covers personal projects and writing at home.
Creative writing #1- get started. Don’t write a whole universe in your head. If you don’t put the pen to the paper (or fingers to keyboard for that matter), your imaginary universe will be forgotten. Even if you feel unready, just jot it down so that you can come back to it later.
Creative writing #2- imaginative imagination. No one wants to read boring writing. Take inspiration from unexpected stories. For example, I recommend checking out Friday: Forbidden Tales, a thriller comic series of short stories that always has interesting twists. Start with a unique concept so that even if your skills aren’t professional quality, the reader is still motivated to read your writing.
Well, there you have it. I hope you learned something helpful. But Julia, my best work is at 2am before my essay is due! Your tips are wrong. Honestly, I agree that beginning right before the deadline produces the most efficient work (not that I would know). And seeing your thoughtful writing get worse comments than your crammed writing is discouraging. Nonetheless, I can guarantee you that your overall quality is better if you follow my tips, not only because they make you a more stable writer, but also because they improve your work habits. For instance, both starting your tasks with minimal procrastination and being able to quickly generate ideas and analysis are key life skills. Writing is not important, but becoming a better human is.