Lets face it, almost all of us struggle with completing a single text without some sort of typo or grammatical mishap. This is fine when it’s just a quick message between friends, but when those mishaps translate into papers and assignments, what was once a cute typo becomes the difference between passing and failing.
Of course, writing for a professor leads to many more roadblocks than simply writing a cute message to your friends. After all, it’s highly unlikely you have a professor-level understanding of the topic, nor even a professor-level vocabulary.
But fear no longer! Here are five tips which could enable you to become a better writer no matter who you are writing for.
1.Knock it off with the large vocabulary.
While I certainly think having a large vocabulary is a virtue, it can also be a vice. Most people will not be able to comprehend what you mean if you use jumbled and obfuscatory jargon.
“The analytic, a-priori ideal of time is apodictically a-priori on the basis of the architectonic nature of our a-priori faculties.”
Your philosophy professor for sure will applaud you on your grasp of Kantian Transcendental Idealism, yet the majority of your peers will be left lost. Therefore, write to be understood, and not to show off!
2.Stop spelling words wrong in texts.
It is tempting to rush off a text to your girlfriend/boyfriend, friend or parent, in a split second. With all the emojis, slang, and shorthand that help describe our feelings, it’s tempting to misspell almost all of the time. It’s extremely convenient to write “h8” instead of “hate”, since you don’t risk getting your thumbs or fingers sore from typing the extra two characters.
If the person you’re texting can’t tell by the tone of your words if you are angry or not, it’s time to change the way you’re communicating. By texting in grammatically correct sentences, you are practicing and honing in your communication skills which directly helps you become a writer. Practice does indeed make perfect.
3.Read great writers.
Consider this: the greatest writers in our language read the greatest writers which preceded them. Lord Macaulay read Gibbon and Hume; Winston Churchill read Gibbon and Macaulay; George Eliot read Henry Fielding. These are not coincidences: to be a great writer, one must learn what it means to be a great writer. When reading books, you absorb, whether consciously or not, the way the work is constructed.
Therefore, you should read writers that are crisp yet eloquent, clear yet profound; none of that James Joyce garbage, with all the scrotum tightening and snot greenness of the sea (Ulysses anyone? No? Just me?). No one wants to read that, and no one should have to. Read the good writers, and discard the bad.
4.Take a grammar course.
Big deal! Who cares about grammar anyway? Well, for starters, your professors, your potential employers, editors, columnists, publishers, and, quite frankly, everyone. Luckily for you, there are such things as grammar textbooks and grammar aids online, but there is nothing like the one-on-one help a professor at a university to cure you of your grammatical woes. There is a course offered at UNB Saint John called Effective Writing, and believe me, it is indeed effective and helping you realize your grammar ineffectiveness.
5.End the comma terror.
Commas are fun! There are many uses for the comma, but most of the time they can be avoided. Besides, there are things called semicolons and colons that may be more effective than the comma.
Also, it is a common misconception that longer sentences are better. In fact, many professors prefer shorter sentences. (see also: Donald Trump) Think about it: what kind of person wants to read a page-length paragraph with only two or three sentences in it with a jumble of semicolons, an attack of commas, and a redundant amount of clauses? I wouldn’t.
With all things considered, think of your professors. Don’t make them suffer through your terrible writing for part marks. Just do it properly and come out with an A.