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7 Steps to Help you Better in Writing

7 Steps to Help you Better in Writing

Do you want to be a fast writer? Do you want to write effectively? Does it take you hours to think of what to write and when you get something on paper, and then you tear it off? Well, if you’re interested in writing faster, more effectively and efficiently, then you have come to the right place.

Structure
Any piece of writing, regardless of its genre, has to be composed of the following sections: Introduction (with a thesis statement), Body (with Supporting Paragraphs), Conclusion (Summary of previous).

Now depending on the type of your piece of writing, the contents of your Body and Conclusion will be different. However, the Introduction’s style will more or less stay the same, giving the audience a brief idea about the topic’s background and the topic itself while outlining the thesis statement.

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Thesis Statement
According to the “Tips and Techniques on Writing Better” research, the Single Biggest Mistake Students Make When Writing Essays is their inability to formulate clear and concise thesis statements.

Allow me to take this research finding and generalize it a little. The most common mistake people make while writing any document or paper is missing the core point or purpose of their writing, in other words: the Thesis statement.

The Thesis statement is the single statement (or 2) that outline the core of the paper; its focus and direction. That’s probably why we will deal with it as a separate step in the writing process.

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Steps:

  1. Brainstorming – Writing down anything that comes into your mind about the topic without attention to structure, sentences or even correct punctuation.
  2. Examine your audience – more often than not, even professionals seem to deliver incomplete or incorrect messages because of jumping onto the writing phase without attention to whom their writing is directed.

    For instance, if you were writing an economic report, then no personal opinions are to be incorporated in it, but rather statistics, mathematical calculations and extrapolations only. Whereas, if you were a Systems Analyst writing as System or Software Requirements Specification Document, then you will outline all your client’s requirement in the system and your expert’s opinion as to how the final solution or system will be structured and on what technology it should be based.

  3. Writing your thesis statement – think of the core purpose of writing this document and try to formulate a sentence that incorporates the whole idea.

    Look at the sentence once it’s written – is it clear enough? Let someone read it and explain to you what he/she understand from it. Re-iterate this step until the thesis statement is clear enough to your target audience.

  4. Formulating the introduction – based on the thesis statement, start formulating your introduction with background information on your topic leading to your thesis statement.
  5. Writing the paper (body and conclusion) whilst thinking of your audience.
    Look back at the notes you wrote while brainstorming and extract those that satisfy your audience and thesis statement. Now organize these extracted ideas (and any others that pop up in your mind) in the way that best develops your main idea or thesis statement.
  6. Proof read for content errors – revise your audience and thesis statement and then read your whole paper to check on whether or not it conveys the message you want to deliver in the structure you wish; otherwise re-structure your paper content-wise.
  7. Proof read for vocabulary and grammatical (/punctuation) errors – the last step in the writing process where you focus on revising the grammar, punctuation and correctness of the English (or whatever language your writing in).


In an effort to point out how the thesis statement and introduction are parts of every piece of writing, we will hereby depict a few examples:
When writing a business proposal, your introduction would focus on the product or service your activity will be based on, but also your thesis statement has to be clear in your mind before you begin to write. The thesis statement here would be where you state the product/service you’ll discuss, its importance, market relevance and significance.

While writing an economic report, your introduction takes your audience through the most recent relevant economic changes (recession/prosperity), the current trends and international market impact, etc. and reaches to the thesis statement. The thesis statement would again be clear enough to sum up what the report is aiming onto elaborating on, achieving or establishing.

The 3rd example we’ll discuss is writing for the web. Although a little different from writing to newspapers or research institutes in the real (off line) world – in terms of audience and your power to attract their attentions – the foundation prevails. You still have to think of a brief introduction that would grab your reader’s attention and a thesis that would intrigue him to read the whole article.

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Another technique is to imbed the thesis statement right at the beginning of the introduction and work backwards (events and background information wise) through the introduction. However, the former discussed technique (thesis in the last 3rd of the introduction) is the more common one.

To add to the steps above, there are a few pointers that when practiced, will lead to even better quality of writing.

  1. Read more – the more you read the more educated and well rounded you become; and hence you will be able to write in a better and more experienced quality of writing (College Board).
  2. Write more – as the famous saying has it: “practice makes perfect”. The more you write, the more you’ll be better are writing the type of papers you’re focusing on (College Board).

References
The Keys to Effective Writing – Tips for Tackling Your Essays and Papers – [CollegeBoard]
Tips and Techniques on Writing Better – [Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL)]

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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