Writing Better Thanks to College

by | Jul 16, 2014 | Blog | 0 comments

This upcoming year is my final year in college and I’ve learned some important stuff that I want to share with you. This knowledge wouldn’t have come to me without going to school, so I figured I should pass it along for those of you who are also aspiring to become a writer of some sort one day.

So here they are: the top five things I’ve learned about writing while at college.

.Books on writing and writing classes are necessary.

For some reason, I thought that I could fully develop my writing skills on my own without the help of college professors and instructional books on writing. Welp, I was dead wrong.

If it weren’t for the classes that I’ve taken thus far at James Madison and the awesome professors that I’ve had, I wouldn’t be the writer that I am at this point. I’ve learned so much about writing genres, structure, methods, development, etc. Not only because I’ve gotten to create pieces with an agenda in mind that I’d never though of, but also because I got to read the work of authors whom I’d never yet heard of. Many of my recent blog posts on my personal website are assignments straight out of the classes I took this year!

If you’re in college now, embrace what you’re learning in your writing classes and get excited! If you’re not in college, then take some writing classes if you can afford it, or buy some books on writing or books of a genre you’ve never read before!

A book I recommend to improve your writing style and skills is Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark.

.Your best writing work isn’t an all-nighter.

Do not settle for an all nighter. It is not worth it, and it is the worst for your productivity. Whether it is for your job or for a class assignment, staying awake all night jacked up on coffee and snacks is not the way to go. Yes, I admit – it can be adventurous. But you will hate it the next couple of days, and you will not write as well as you could. This obviously needs to be avoided by working earlier in advance, so do it. (I’m preaching to myself, don’t take this harshly).

.Brainstorming is important for writing.

You really should brainstorm. You really, really should. Whether it’s for class, for yourself, for your job, whether creative or informational — just be sure to take time to brainstorm! Brainstorm first what your main point is, and what message you want to get across to your reader(s). Then, map it out – even if it’s very broadly. It may take a long time, but it’s better than getting frustrated and feeling helpless because you keep trying to move forward in whatever you’re writing and you can’t because you keep having to stop and think about where you’re going next (can you tell I have serious experience with this?). Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.

.Working with people while writing isn’t a great idea. Write alone.

Everyone who knows me knows that I love people. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly cherish my “me-time”, but I generally find any reason to be with my friends. However, the one time that I find I truly cannot be around people is when I’m trying to write. Whether I’m writing for school or trying to write a blog post or my book, I cannot give my current task the full attention that it deserves and needs. I’m not necessarily even distracted with conversation – simply with the presence of another person that I know nearby.

Write alone. That way, you can dive into your own world, and you can take the people you love with you later on once you’ve finished your writing for that time.

.There will always be circumstances under which you have to write about things that bore you.

I’ve saved the least exciting thing I’ve learned about writing in this list for last so to not scare you away. As a Writing & Rhetoric major at JMU, I have to take many core writing classes that are required for the major, some of them of which I am completely uninterested in. I quickly learned that I’m going to have to take these classes regardless of how I feel about them, and if I focus on how monotone they are to me, I will be miserable. Therefore, I now embrace whatever writing task I’m required to undertake, and it’s proven very beneficial.

For those of you who are not in school anymore, maybe you have a job that you don’t love so much. My career dream is to one day become a professional novelist, but I’m aware that before I get there I’m going to have to experience some writing jobs that may just not be my forté. I’ll probably have to write for a newspaper, or an online magazine, or something that I don’t enjoy quite as much as I do blogging as I am now. However, if I want to get through it with joy and a positive attitude, I’ll need to embrace whatever it is that I’m doing and take from it what I can!

Make it fun for yourself somehow. There’s always a way, and there will always come a time where you’ll need to do it!


There are many more things I’ve learned about writing while going to school, but these are the ones that I think are the most important to share! I hope it helps!

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