25 Writing Tips
Here are twenty-five writing tips compiled
from successful authors, renowned scholars, and distinguished LWC
Writing Center staff.
- Practice often. The more you write, the easier it gets to
put your thoughts on paper.
- Read a lot, especially the kind of writing you like to
do. This is how we learn the language of readers and writers
and listen in on their conversations.
- Seek to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange --
for yourself as the writer.
- Start your project as soon as you can. Your writing
process is every bit as important as your final written
- What comes to you first doesn't have to end up in the lead, or
anywhere else for that matter. Just mute the critic and
- Use your natural voice. Afterward, revise for your
audience or discipline. Over time your natural voice will
change as it needs to.
- Don't be afraid to follow your rabbit holes; you never know
where they'll lead.
- Support your thesis with research, but first research to
develop a thesis. This is also called listening before you
- Talk about your writing with an interested reader. Get
them to ask you questions. Your responses might give you
ideas for your paper.
- Imagine an audience beyond a teacher.
- To avoid being distracted by a length guideline while drafting,
screw up the margins and font size.
- Use the senses. Show what you saw, heard, touched,
smelled, or tasted, so the reader can think and feel the same as
- Learn the standards before bending them, and don't bend them
without a good reason.
- Revise. Ernest Hemingway rewrote the final page
of Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times.
- Put some daylight between drafts. Walk away.
Reinhabit your life. Refresh.
- After you have a draft, make an outline of what you've written
to see whether the path you're on is the one you want to take.
- Active verbs energize the prose. Where possible, use them
to replace adverbs,
adjectives, be and have verbs,
and passive voice.
- Use precise words. Sometimes that means choosing a big
word, sometimes a small one. It almost always means nixing
- Vary your sentence structure. Too many essays and too
many sentences begin with I or there
- By the end of the process, make every paragraph about one
- Read your draft aloud to someone. Among other things,
this gives you a sense of audience, lets you hear the way you come
across in the piece, and it can help you vary your vowel and
- Readers pause at commas, but writers don't put a comma
everywhere they pause. Study the current punctuation
- When proofreading, say each sentence aloud, working from the
final sentence to the first.
- Write the truth as you experience it -- your truth. And
be transparent about it.
- Remember that, ultimately, writing can be more a conversation
than a performance.