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Writing Faster

Disquisition
Posts: 391
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8/25/2013 11:20:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
About start college tomorrow and I wanted a few tips/tricks that can help me write essays faster and more efficiently.

I would consider myself a decent writer, depending on the subject. But I allows tend to do a little better under pressure (time constraints), which is a bad habitat that leads to procrastination for me.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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8/26/2013 7:20:02 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Well, I don't think there is a single thing that would work for all people, you have to find out what works best for you. It also depends on the class and your purposes.

For example, some of my classes I didn't care about and were gen. ed. prereqs. for other classes, so I felt find just BSing my way through. Other classes were higher level and more important, so I put more effort into it.

This is what I normally did:
First, and most importantly, is be sure of the requirements (formatting, page length, word length, topic, etc.).
Second, draft and outline (introduction, body w/ different topics, conclusion, etc.) Make sure the outline addresses all of the topics/questions in the requirements.
If the limit is a word count, divide the words equally among the number of sections you have outlined. Use this as a guide to help you from going over/going under.
If the limit is a page count, figure 500 words a page, depending on the formatting. I liked going here (http://www.lipsum.com...) generating a bunch of text, pasting it in a word doc, formatting it correctly, and then chopping it off at the page length and seeing what the word count was.

From there it's basically done. You can fill it in as the week goes by or wait till the day it's due and write it all at once, though larger papers should have some more lead time.

The best strategy, though, is to take similar classes in which you can reuse assignments. I took Writing for Managers and Technical Writing and was able to reuse about 80% of my essays. Good times.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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8/29/2013 11:48:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
One key difference between a pro writer and an amateur is speed. The same is true of bartenders, but that's another story.

I suggest that you start by writing down a list of topics you want to work into your essay, in no particular order. Think about including something that relates the topic to your life or to the life of the average person. Write down unusual facts or observations that you have about the topic.

If you are not too familiar with the subject, do a web search and find some interesting things that other people have written. Save some quotations and the links to the sources.

Expand some of your random ideas into paragraphs, starting with ones that seem the easiest to write about.

At this point, how to organize the essay should become apparent. Move the pieces around to make a logical order. Delete the pieces that don't fit or don't seem too interesting. Expand the writing to the size of the essay, or somewhat larger.

Now write the introduction. For a factual essay, don't keep any surprises. Reveal your whole story in the opening paragraphs.

Edit the writing, getting rid of every "It ... that" and rearranging sentences into direct statements. Make sentences short. Use Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style."

Run spelling and grammar checkers. Check that you have met the format requirements. Keep in mind that your audience is a college professor, so perfection in spelling and grammar is extremely important; more important than what you have to say. If you are addressing a touchy subject, give both sides without expressing a strong opinion of your own -- even if you think the prof is bleeping nuts. Writing is always done for a particular audience. You have an audience of one.

After a while, you'll find that you can write fairly close to the final essay without writing down the outline, and only a minimum of rearranging. Getting to that point takes several years of persistent practice.
Disquisition
Posts: 391
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8/30/2013 12:26:07 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/29/2013 11:48:09 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
One key difference between a pro writer and an amateur is speed. The same is true of bartenders, but that's another story.

I suggest that you start by writing down a list of topics you want to work into your essay, in no particular order. Think about including something that relates the topic to your life or to the life of the average person. Write down unusual facts or observations that you have about the topic.

If you are not too familiar with the subject, do a web search and find some interesting things that other people have written. Save some quotations and the links to the sources.

Expand some of your random ideas into paragraphs, starting with ones that seem the easiest to write about.

At this point, how to organize the essay should become apparent. Move the pieces around to make a logical order. Delete the pieces that don't fit or don't seem too interesting. Expand the writing to the size of the essay, or somewhat larger.

Now write the introduction. For a factual essay, don't keep any surprises. Reveal your whole story in the opening paragraphs.

Edit the writing, getting rid of every "It ... that" and rearranging sentences into direct statements. Make sentences short. Use Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style."

Run spelling and grammar checkers. Check that you have met the format requirements. Keep in mind that your audience is a college professor, so perfection in spelling and grammar is extremely important; more important than what you have to say. If you are addressing a touchy subject, give both sides without expressing a strong opinion of your own -- even if you think the prof is bleeping nuts. Writing is always done for a particular audience. You have an audience of one.

After a while, you'll find that you can write fairly close to the final essay without writing down the outline, and only a minimum of rearranging. Getting to that point takes several years of persistent practice.

Thanks for posting, I have a paper to write tis morrow :)
Disquisition
Posts: 391
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8/30/2013 12:26:43 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/26/2013 7:20:02 AM, drafterman wrote:
Well, I don't think there is a single thing that would work for all people, you have to find out what works best for you. It also depends on the class and your purposes.

For example, some of my classes I didn't care about and were gen. ed. prereqs. for other classes, so I felt find just BSing my way through. Other classes were higher level and more important, so I put more effort into it.

This is what I normally did:
First, and most importantly, is be sure of the requirements (formatting, page length, word length, topic, etc.).
Second, draft and outline (introduction, body w/ different topics, conclusion, etc.) Make sure the outline addresses all of the topics/questions in the requirements.
If the limit is a word count, divide the words equally among the number of sections you have outlined. Use this as a guide to help you from going over/going under.
If the limit is a page count, figure 500 words a page, depending on the formatting. I liked going here (http://www.lipsum.com...) generating a bunch of text, pasting it in a word doc, formatting it correctly, and then chopping it off at the page length and seeing what the word count was.

From there it's basically done. You can fill it in as the week goes by or wait till the day it's due and write it all at once, though larger papers should have some more lead time.

The best strategy, though, is to take similar classes in which you can reuse assignments. I took Writing for Managers and Technical Writing and was able to reuse about 80% of my essays. Good times.

And thanks to you aswell
YYW
Posts: 36,364
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8/30/2013 11:04:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/25/2013 11:20:18 PM, Disquisition wrote:
About start college tomorrow and I wanted a few tips/tricks that can help me write essays faster and more efficiently.

I would consider myself a decent writer, depending on the subject. But I allows tend to do a little better under pressure (time constraints), which is a bad habitat that leads to procrastination for me.

The only way to write efficiently is to actually understand what you're writing about. There is no trick that will enable you to produce a paper worth reading in the absence of your understanding what you're writing about. You should know enough about some topic that you have ideas of your own before you write about it, at a very minimum. If you're having trouble writing, that's a fairly sufficient indication that you don't adequately understand something. So, invest the time and effort to hone your command of the subject matter you are tasked about, rather than wondering how to write.

Btw., you need to structure you paper in a very formulaic way:

Major Premise) Statement of rule: If A, then B.
Minor Premise) Statement of fact: A
Conclusion) Application of Fact to Rule: B.

Do that, and you'll be alright. Don't do that, and you'll be staring at the computer screen wondering where the hell your efforts went. Really, though, writing begins with reading. You need to read things in such a way that you actually grasp them, not only to a degree that you can repeat them on a test. COMPREHEND, do not merely OBSERVE -is essentially what I'm saying.

If any of that was unclear, and I make room for that possibility, please just respond to this or send me a PM. I read so much bullsh!t from undergrads that it made me want to vomit. If I can save one other grad student from that, I'm happy to invest the effort in doing so.
Tsar of DDO
Jack212
Posts: 572
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8/31/2013 8:04:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/25/2013 11:20:18 PM, Disquisition wrote:
About start college tomorrow and I wanted a few tips/tricks that can help me write essays faster and more efficiently.

I would consider myself a decent writer, depending on the subject. But I allows tend to do a little better under pressure (time constraints), which is a bad habitat that leads to procrastination for me.

The best way to become good at something is to practise it over and over. Write as often as you can. Write stories. Write posts on DDO. Read other people's writing. As you do so, practise conveying information as efficiently as possible. Essentially, you're mastering your ability to use English.
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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9/1/2013 5:46:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/25/2013 11:20:18 PM, Disquisition wrote:
About start college tomorrow and I wanted a few tips/tricks that can help me write essays faster and more efficiently.

I would consider myself a decent writer, depending on the subject. But I allows tend to do a little better under pressure (time constraints), which is a bad habitat that leads to procrastination for me.

There are three aspects to writing, good, fast, and valuable. and you only get two.

If it's good and fast, it isn't going to be valuable, if it's valuable and fast, it won't be good, and if it's good and valuable, it's not going to be fast.

Go for good and valuable, lose fast.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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9/1/2013 12:11:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/31/2013 8:04:55 PM, Jack212 wrote:
The best way to become good at something is to practise it over and over. Write as often as you can. Write stories. Write posts on DDO. Read other people's writing. As you do so, practise conveying information as efficiently as possible. Essentially, you're mastering your ability to use English.

Surely practice is important, but improvement requires that you know what to do to improve. Without some instruction or constructive criticism, people just repeat the same mistakes. So take a course or read a book about writing, or if you can manage it, work with a good editor,