At Work

6 Writing Hacks I Wish I Knew When I Was in College

It seems that college is a time of reckoning for all the times you dozed off in composition or fundamentals of research class in high school. All your classes will have at least one writing assignment, be it an essay, book review, or term paper, and they all have deadlines.

It can drive anyone to desperation, even students that actually enjoy writing. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew of ways on how to speed up the writing process? Here are some writing hacks I wish I knew when I was in college, which I now use in my work. Business writing. Check. Research. Check. Content Marketing Hacks. Check.

Wikipedia rules!

Most writing assignments will stress that Wikipedia is not an acceptable reference, but who says you have to cite it in your paper?  Wikipedia articles themselves may not be a reliable source of information, but in most cases it includes a reference section.

You can check out the cited sources and use those, if appropriate. Not all of them will be acceptable references, and quite a few are broken links, but it does help narrow your search for material.

Additionally, many Wikipedia articles follow a standard structure, so you can use the same outline for your own paper. You can sometimes paraphrase the contents of a Wikipedia article and use the same references for a quick fix when time is running short. There is no crime in that if you use your own words. Think of it as Cliff notes for term papers.

Real Life Application: Now, at work, Wikipedia is a definite go-to when I need to understand something easily be it buzzwords or latest technical jargon. Keeps me up to par with my colleagues and a definite heaven sent.

To walk out is to be productive

When you have to really concentrate on a writing assignment, working at home or in your room can be distracting. It is better to go to a quiet corner of the library (alone) or a coffee shop to do your work.

Your attention is less likely to wander if you are in a place where nobody knows you. You don’t have to filter out the noise of a television or your roommate chatting with friends. You also won’t be tempted to do chores or check what’s in the refrigerator.If you can afford it, consider getting a room in a motel and shut all distractions out, including your mobile phone. In fact, Western Governors University outlines the 11 ways study environment affects productivity.

Real Life Application: As a blogger and content writer, I do find myself in a rut sometimes. In cases where inspiration fails to strike, I walk it off. When I go back to my desk I see things with new perspective and able to spin something interesting and intriguing from the seemingly mundane.

Begin the writing process with a title

If you are having a hard time getting started, play around with titles. Generating a title that sounds right for you can get the ideas and associations started. You can jot down these ideas at random, and use them to create an outline. There are several title generators you can use including Random Academic Essay Title Generator, Content Idea Generator, and Content Ideator. All you have to do is enter your subject or topic and voila! instant content ideas. Now, you have a starting point (a writing prompt, if you will) for your paper.

Real Life Application: This tip is also a great productivity hack for content marketers. By starting your writing process with a title, you get to map out and picture what the flow of the article would be like. It helps to check out the must-have tools stated above as well.

Check out online articles to review related literature

Make an online search of the topic you have been assigned. Read what others have written about it to get an idea of what you can do. You don’t have to be terribly original when you do a writing assignment, so it is acceptable to imitate other people’s work. If you like a particular article, you can use it to create your own paper as long as you don’t copy it verbatim. That’s the difference between copying and research. There are a lot of free online articles you can check out for reference including the New York Public Library and the Directory of Open Access Journals can save you lots of time in doing your research at the comfort of your home rather than in the library.

Real Life Application: There is no need for your to reinvent the wheel. As Steve Jobs aptly stated, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” The key to innovation at work, is to look for what is already there, make it better, and add your personal touch.

Outsource the legwork

When you are feeling particularly harried, you can consider outsourcing some of the work. Professional writing services can help with putting together an outline, research summary and/or reference page for your chosen topic.  That is a perfectly legitimate shortcut to write your paper. You can save a serious amount of time when you delegate these tasks to others, and you can concentrate on writing the actual paper and impressing your professor with your well-substantiated arguments.

Real Life Application: Delegate. If you want to be a top performer, keep the Pareto Principle in mind: 80% of the result comes from 20% of the effort. Focus on the 20% of the effort that will give you the results that you want.

Use online tools

College students have no excuse for sloppy work because everything they need is available online. Use them to your advantage. You have basic tools such as:

Spelling and Grammar Checkers
Reverso – Boasts of an intelligent spelling and grammar checker. It can automatically correct a word and offer alternatives. The downside is that this tool can check up to 600 characters only. Hence, it may take a while to run an entire essay or research paper.

Ginger – This awesome tool comes with a plugin that spell checks even your emails as you write them. It efficiently corrects texts using the context of sentence syntax.

BestEssays – While software checkers are good, nothing beats having professional writers look through your work. Apart from the usual spelling and grammar check, they will give you comments on how to improve your work and nail your paper.

Plagiarism Checkers
PlagTracker – With plagiarism as a major no-no (both in school and in your post-college life), this tool is the perfect companion to help you a major gaffe. With its unique plagiarism checking algorithm, this tool is very easy to use and provides an easy to understand report.

Plagiarism Checker – With its simple interface, you need only to paste your content and the tool will check it for possible duplicate content. It scans your text and shows in red those that already exist online. Hence, commonly-used phrases will definitely trip a filter and trigger red flag.

Reference Creators
Citation Machine – Whether you are a student or a professional researcher, this tool is very helpful in cutting your citation time in half. You can choose from APA, MLA, or Chicago, enter details in the required fields and this tool will generate the reference for you.

BibMe – Another reference creator option that works pretty much the same as the previous one. You can choose the style guide you want (or required) and use either auto-fill or manual entry modes to generate your reference.

Real Life Application: These online tools can help you out no matter what stage you are in your university life or career. Having a good spelling app and grammar editor can go a long way in establishing you as a credible person people should watch out for in your field.

Writing assignments are a necessary evil for many college students, so it will not do to bury your head in the sand and hope they will go away. They won’t, and you have to do them before the deadline. These writing tips are definitely going to help you get through them quickly and well.

So just bear your coursework requirements and leverage the advantages of these writing hacks, because they are not just applicable in college but when you start working as well.

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