Practice What You Preach?

Like many of you, I have been writing for a VERY long time. I’ve considered myself a writer ever since first grade when I wrote my first short story: a fiction piece about a young student who gets sucked into his computer screen. Despite my love for writing, there are many things I know I should do, but don’t. I have drafted an annotated list that includes some of the strategies and approaches to writing to which I often fall short. These include:

1) Reading out loud- Just do it!! After spending hours and hours on a draft, the last thing I want to do is read the paper out loud, one sentence at a time. However, after years of getting points off on papers for stupid grammar mistakes, I think I have learned my lesson. It is foolish to not spend the extra half hour reading out loud after spending so much time on the paper itself. You never know if a sentence structure is awkward or unclear until it is read aloud.

2) Try to publish your work- If you think its great, chances are others will too! There are so many publications in our community, many of which are student run and always looking for new work to publish. You can even make money for your work by entering contests. For example,poetry contests are extremely common and often offer and nice cash prize. But more importantly, publishing your work is a great was to get recognition! I once tried to get a poem I wrote about golf published in Golf Magazine, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. Regardless, now is the perfect time to get your name out there through accessible publications.

3) Use a style guide- Don’t under-estimate them! No one is too good for a style. There are so many rules and grammar, and sometimes grammar but be correct but not effective. There may be a better way to organize your thoughts. So, start carrying around a style guide. There are many different versions, my favorite being the Strunk and White “Elements of Style.”

4) Free write- I tend to write drafts very slowly, carefully crafting each sentence as if for a final draft that must be perfect. But, for a first draft, this simply isn’t the case. Sometimes it is better to get all your ideas down on the page before going back to edit and organize. This is why I think it would be good for me, and all writers, to do more free writes when preparing to write a paper. A free write is usually about ten minutes of constant writing, never stopping to analyze or critique your work. I don’t free write enough, but hope to utilize it more in the future as a brainstorming tool.

I plan on instituting all four of these strategies moving forward to improve my writing and increase my recognition as a writer.

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