I asked one of our writing tutors if he knew any tricks that he could share, something that possibly a student doesn’t hear at school. And this is what Eli said:
In writing, there is no formula mastered or diagram memorized that will lead you to the correct answer. It’s an interesting mix of technical and subjective, calling for artistic creativity while at the same time requiring a set of rules.
A common notion is that writing is a gift of which comes naturally — that some are born talented writers and others are not. But it’s really just a skill like any other; to write well takes practice, and there are certain tricks you can use to help yourself improve.
1. Get inspired while going about your day.
Use your daily experiences and observations to generate ideas. The world is an interesting place, and since we are constantly analyzing our external environment anyway, why not use it as inspiration?
2. Carry a notebook.
Have you ever found yourself writing something in your head while hiking or riding the train or driving? You find yourself wishing there was a way to transcribe all those thoughts directly from your mind to your Word document.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, that technology doesn’t exist yet. You can, however, carry a pocket-sized notebook to jot down ideas or observations as they come to along. Or if you are driving, try using a recording device. Many great ideas can come from a stream of conscious.
3. Mindset is everything.
Find a mindset (not necessarily a routine) that is conducive to writing for you. For example, I write best in the mornings, so I have to wake up early to get anything done.
Exercise helps me as well. Going for a quick run or even just taking a stroll in the fresh air clears my mind and puts me in a good place to write. Figure out what gets you in the right frame of mind and then start writing; it will save you loads of frustration.
Most importantly: Read! Someone recently showed me a website that was a blank screen. When you clicked on the screen, a picture of a cat’s face would appear … and you could do this over and over again until the entire page was filled with cats.
Here’s my point: If you ever find yourself tempted to visit this site, or one like it, go to the library and take out a good book instead. If you don’t know any good books, ask a librarian for a recommendation. The easiest way to improve your writing is to read voraciously.
Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask a Tutor runs biweekly.
— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.