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Writing – Just do it!

Writing – Just do it!

I used to be an English teacher and the most dreaded task that I could assign my students was to write a short essay. Perhaps that fear is a product of our technological environment where the art of writing to introduce or share an idea has given way to terse or coded phone messages, happy faces or computer emoticons to convey a thought. Sometimes a student spends hours searching the Internet trying to uncover something that has been written before, in hopes that a teacher will not discover the plagiarized material. Unfortunately, many students graduate from school with minimal writing skills and enter the adult world unprepared to meet the challenges of having to write to survive in many professions.

There are many tips, tricks and gimmicks that are available that would suggest that if you follow this rule or that rule that writing ability will suddenly appear out of the mist and bless the afflicted with a talent that has hitherto been undiscovered – poppycock! Writing is just like any other endeavor in life. One does not wake up and become a football player because they think it will be a good career choice or enter into the field of investment banking without preparation, practice and some set backs along the way.

So what does one do when they are confronted with a mission to write something and they are unprepared? I recommend the well known Nike motto – “just do it”. I can hear the reader thinking now – “yeah sure – fine for you to say, but I don’t know what I’m doing.” Wrong! If you can read, you can write. There are only two obstacles to successful writing. They are fear and lack of desire. Fear can be overcome. Lack of desire is a terminal affliction.

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If you lack desire, stop reading now. You are wasting time. If fear is the only obstacle, please continue and I will provide two simple rules for improving your writing. First let me assure you that I had to conquer a fear of writing so I know the difficulty, but I also recognized that my career would be handicapped substantially if I did not learn to write so I set out to conquer my fear and improve my writing. In fact teaching English was my second career – I never would have “thunk” it!

Writing is like a child learning a game. Do you remember when you were a child and entered the playground to engage in some sport with your playmates? Did you know the rules? Of course not – you simple engaged in the activity and learned the rules as time progressed. Here is where Nike enters the picture as rule number one – just do it! Get the paper and pencil or sit at the keyboard and write. What do you have to write – a sales report, a letter of recommendation, a plan to improve some function or some other writing activity? All require a start – so start! No rules – just start! In fact, stop reading this article and begin. You can come back after the first 50 words are written.

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Rule number two. The last rule! There has to a beginning, a middle and an end in your writing efforts. You’ve probably heard of the old standby – an introduction, a body and a conclusion. So make sure you have introduced your subject, presented some material to support that subject and conclude with your findings or recommendations.

Alright! I know I have oversimplified a bit, but I’m assuming that if you can read this that you recognize what a sentence is and have at least a basic knowledge of punctuation. If you have those skills you can write! Just like the playground experience, you can learn the finer techniques as you practice the game.

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In fact, after you’ve written a bit – I recommend the “50 tools that can help you in writing” that are posted on this website. They offer additional information that can improve your writing techniques and add finesse to your game.
In conclusion, enjoy the experience! You can do it if you “just do it.”

David Richards is a retired teacher and former business owner that lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. He enjoys sharing any knowledge gained or lessons learned in his life in hopes that they may be applicable to others.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

Here are some study tips to help get you started:

1. Use Flashcards

Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

As Tony Robbins says,

“Repetition is the mother of skill”.

2. Create the Right Environment

Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

4. Listen to Music

Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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5. Rewrite Your Notes

This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

6. Engage Your Emotions

Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

7. Make Associations

One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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