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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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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