There have been a good deal of things that I have learned about writing while attending college. The most useful things that I can share are by far things that I have learned during my first contemporary writing class.
1. Don’t be Anal About Spelling
This is because in today’s modern society, most if not all “word processors” come equipped with automatic spell checkers. As is one of my biggest pet peeves this is an area that I had to restrain myself from adjusting to. I am not the greatest speller in the world, but I have learned to accept that MS Word would ping my spelling errors as I write and I could go back and correct them when I was finished. As long as you get your ideas down, and then let the spell checker do the rest, but never forget to proofread.
2. Grammar Is Key
Proper grammar goes right along with spelling, to me if it doesn’t sound right, or flow properly, then there might be grammatical errors in your writing, unless you are writing dialog or poetry, then all rules can be broken. This is because in dialog, there are certain usages of words and sentences that can be directly attributed to different types of associations and cultures (for instance in some cultures the word ‘thing’ could be translated into ‘thang’.) Most word processors today also come with a grammar checker of some sort where it highlights any possible grammatical errors there may be present in your piece.
3. Stick to Your Context
Too often a writer could and will find themselves drifting off topic for a moment or two. The main thing that helps me out in this situation is to basically take a break. Treat it as one would a job. If a writer sits upon hours writing without a break or two, an outside observer would most likely find gibberish here and there. Getting off topic may or may not be a bad thing though. I recently sat down and wrote a MLA style report on society’s response to the removal of Pluto’s planetary status, instead it turned into an informative piece about dwarf planets and Trans-Neptunium objects. So even though sticking to your original context is a great idea to writers, if you happen to stray off course, look at what you have to see if you can modify your context to what you have. Remember, if bakers stuck to the original recipe of bread, there wouldn’t be so many variations that we have today.
4. Creativity Is a Must
Especially in “Creative Writing.” You want to be able to ‘WOW’ your audience. Most people wouldn’t want to sit through a two hour Ben Stein lecture. Likewise people lose interest way too soon in stories. Most people can decide whether or not the book is good just by reading the first couple of paragraphs. Without creativity, there would be nothing to capture your audiences’ attention right off the back.
5. Figure Out ‘Who’ Your Audience Is
This is probable the most important thing that I have learned about writing. To figure out “Who” you are writing for is probably the easiest, but hardest thing to learn how to do because it sets the stage for your article, book, or presentation. Once this is figured out, everything about what you are writing about should fall into place. For instance if you were writing a presentation for the U.S. President, you would only want to write down and stress the important ideas in your presentation because as being an extremely busy person, his attention might only be towards the importance of what you are trying to convey rather than the details of the unimportant ideas.