ATTENTION UNDERGRADUATES: A Few Tips on Preparing for Those Fierce 101 Papers

lindseygilbert Lindsey Gilbert, Consultant

College is quite thrilling, but when classes begin to settle, you might feel overwhelmed. Tests and quizzes give you a studying routine, but what about your essay writing? As your English midterm paper quickly approaches, keep in mind that the writing process may take a little longer than you think, but don’t worry—it’s meant to. You can start your very own writing routine by keeping in mind the seven tips listed below. These tips will greatly help you in any future writing endeavors that you may tackle.

  1. Don’t wait till the last minute to start your paper. Believe it or not, it is best to start your paper early. Reading the prompt thoroughly will help you understand what you are expected to do and allow you the time to think through paper topics. Then you can begin your writing, which will cause less stress overall as the due date approaches.
  2. Your first idea may not be your final paper topic. Unfortunately, it’s true. At times you will begin researching a topic and discover that not enough information may be published about it. Not finding the information you want in order to write your paper is challenging, but that doesn’t mean you’ll fail. Turn to another topic and who knows—maybe it’ll work out better than you expected.
  3. Brainstorm with anybody! Whether you want to talk with your peers, your teacher, or even a Writing Center consultant, brainstorming is the best way to tease out ideas for your paper. You never know what new ideas you will have after brainstorming with others, so give it a try!
  4. Write a first draft, not just a final copy. Okay, so this one may be a challenge, especially since it appears easier to type up your ideas and call it a day; however, this can come back to hurt you (or your grade rather). Get out all of your ideas by writing them down, then go back and read what you wrote. Yes, you may find some grammar errors, but this will begin the constructing process of your paper. After you’ve read it through, you can tweak it to make your arguments stronger.
  5. The five paragraph essay is a format, not your writing style’s way of life. For many of us, we come to college with the mindset that the five paragraph essay is the way to write an essay, but that’s not true. Secondary teachers will often use the technique of the five paragraph essay to demonstrate the format of a paper. This is beneficial for learning essay construction, but it doesn’t have to carry into your future work entirely. Use the foundation of this concept to structure your paper. Essays exhibit many variations for their essay structure based on the number of points and the amount of information provided on those points. Having four major points can make for four body paragraphs, whereas two extensive points may still make for four body paragraphs. As long as your essay structure is strong, your reader will understand the layout of your ideas and your overall paper.
  6. Remember: Writing is a process. You may not receive the grade you want, but keep in mind that writing takes time to perfect. Most authors in the articles that you read for class are nowhere near your age, so remember that developing your writing takes time and dedication. Use your resources, such as your friendly Writing Center staff, to assist you in becoming a better and stronger writer for life.
  7. Come visit the Writing Center! Familiarize yourself with our friendly Writing Center staff. Each consultant’s goal is to help you become a better writer, so if you have questions about an assignment or want a second opinion on your work, feel free to bring it in. With both you and the consultant wanting to strengthen your writing, these sessions will be of great value to you!

Keep these seven tips in mind as you begin working on your next English paper, among other potential subject papers. The task of writing may seem quite daunting, but just like any other subject, putting time and effort into your writing will help you become a better writer and, in return, help you write strong papers for your classes. Focusing on bettering your writing style now will only save you time down the road. I hope to see you at the Writing Center this year!

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