Writing. Something you dread to start and just can’t wait to finish. But in the process of writing, you find it enjoyable as you formulate words into a sentence, and sentences into a paragraph. And so you breeze through. On the other hand, it may be treacherous like pulling teeth, only this time you are trying to compose ideas into words. In both cases, there are three common mistakes that may affect your writing.
1. Diving Right In
Yes, I know. You want to get over and done with your writing and so you start with whatever comes to mind. But somewhere along the way, you are stuck, or the idea just doesn’t hold any water. What to do? You have two options, restart and reframe your idea or proceed with the cloudy idea. The former is time-consuming while the latter just does not do justice to your idea.
Jumping into writing without giving frame to your overall idea puts you in such a dilemma.
What to Do
Before writing anything, it does good to take a step back and ask yourself three simple questions:
1. What is the main idea? (include the who, what, when, where and how)
2. How do I pass across that idea? (tone, style, format, etc.)
3. What do I know about the topic or need to know? (It is here that you consider what research you need to do)
There are more questions that you can ask yourself, but these three are major. Once you ask yourself these, proceed to create an outline.
An outline is a breakdown of your ideas in a logical and sequential format. A basic outline entails:
Heading- The heading will help you frame your content and hinge all ideas around
Introduction– Summarizes the overall idea of the topic. Here you don’t necessarily need to write the exact introduction but what kind of information your introduction will entail
Main Ideas– List your ideas 1,2,3,4 . . . that will make up the body of your writing. Briefly summarize in point form what idea will be expounded in each paragraph or section
Conclusion– From the main ideas, write the common string that ties all the ideas into one. It is important that your paragraph has a call to action (CTA)- what action do you want the readers to take after reading your work? Remember to include this in your conclusion
Now, your outline is a roadmap and should be brief but detailed. An outline is also not the final write-up neither is it cast in stone. You may notice some things may change as you write, but overall, an outline helps you keep on track as you write.
2. Losing Your Authenticity
It is inevitable that in your writing, you are borrowing ideas from some place. Your research paper, story, or writing is building on some ideas. Often times, people lose their voice when they try to merge different ideas. Good writing stands out, it is original. In academia, losing originality will make you risk being a plagiarizer.
What to Do
Free write your ideas first. Write what it is that you wanted to say first. Later, see how other ideas can be merged into your writing. This is important because your ideas now become primary and all else become back-ups.
Own your writing and the process. The more you are invested in your writing, the more you will feel personally attached to it. So, find the intrigue of the topic you are writing. You can do this by seeing it as an opportunity to learn, unleash your creativity, and exercise your brain muscle. Whatever the case, find a reason to make the writing process personal.
Let’s help you create and clearly articulate your desired message by creating content designed for your audience
3. Leaving Too Quick
The last full stop to your writing is not the end. Not just yet. Don’t be in a hurry to submit your work after writing. Give your work one two or even three checks because there are minor adjustments that always need to be made. If you overlook this, the writing becomes full of unintended errors. Although the idea is great, errors make your work less credible.
What to Do
Read and re-read with an intention of revising (editing) and correcting (proof-reading) your work. Revisiting your writing ensures spelling, punctuation, grammar, and structure are taken care of. It also gives you an opportunity to rephrase sentences and fine-tune your ideas.
Take it step-by-step and focus on one element at a time. Look out for:
– Flow and readability of text
-Spelling and grammar
-Consistency in punctuation
-Fact-checking of names, figures, and overall facts
-Font and numbering formatting
In as much as you re-read, there is always a tendency to miss out on your own errors. One main reason is that your brain reads what you wanted to convey and not what you actually convey. It, therefore, helps to submit your work for proofing and editing. A third eye will catch errors that you otherwise would not have.
Finally . . .
Curbing writing mistakes lies in how you start, how you proceed, and how you finish. Start by thinking through what you are writing about by creating an outline, next draft down your ideas before adding other sources to maintain originality, and finally review your work and hand it over to a third party to review and catch errors you might have missed. Ensuring that you are intentional in all of these steps will help you avoid mistakes and improve your writing.