Writing advice I’d give myself #1

Be confident.

You know what you want to include, so do so. The act of writing and the act of revising/editing are different things. Even big authors have editors.

Criticism is good.

Any criticism you receive pertaining to your writing should not be taken personally, no matter how personal you feel it is. The thing is, criticism is not personal.

What criticism is concerns your reader, who may not understand your meaning, not comprehend your topic, or may think your writing is “dumb.” NO, your writing isn’t “dumb” or “stupid” or any other adjective you would falsely apply because you feel bad. Writing has no place for such adjectives, for, again, those adjectives are merely a reflection of the reader.

If you ever hear such a word applied to your writing, just ask “Why?” Likewise, if a reader simply says your paper was “Nice,” ask what made him/her think so. In what ways does your reader like your paper? In what ways does your reader not like your paper? Ask your reader how he/she feels, and why they feel that way. If you ask questions of your reader that you want to know, you are more likely to receive less biased, direct, and clearer answers that also meet your needs as a writer.

Do not be afraid to express your opinions.

There is a time and place for your own views in a paper, but I would like you to know that you can. For that matter, anything you write is your opinion, simply because you wrote it.

For this reason, “third person” (objective) point of view exists to standardize academic writing in many ways. Not only does objectivity allow you to respond more thoughtfully to a topic or claim, it allows your reader to think for his- or herself. It is a good idea to first supply and analyze evidence before you allow subjectivity to enter your writing.

Never assume your reader knows what you are talking about.

A quick way to write more comprehensive papers is to assume your reader doesn’t know your topic—many times, he or she will be as clueless as I say here. In which case, you do not need to pretend your reader is “too simple” to understand what you are talking about. Instead, just be sure to define key words in the context you write.

For example, see my previous paragraph when I mentioned “third person.” In parenthesis, I included the term “objective.” Having included what I felt was enough information for you to better understand my meaning, you can work to include that term in your vocabulary and as a writing technique.

Defining your topic in context also allows your paper to “stand on its own” without requiring outside support to make sure your paper makes sense.


About jlnp

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