Think tutors are just for kids? From professional emails to cover letters, learning how to write well will carry you far through life – so if you’re not confident in your skills, it may be worth looking into. Check out these tips for writing from Evanston, IL and online tutor Rachel M.:
As a college student with three years of private tutoring under my belt, I can speak from experience when I say that writing isn’t what it used to be. Students learn how to type using an iPad and “Swyping,” their schools provide free computer equipment to take notes during class, and they take classes on computer skills and programming in lieu of ever learning cursive.
Certainly the times have changed for writers in a digital climate, but what of the challenges that face writers today? As a private tutor with a specific focus on English and ESL, I meet many students who struggle with writing skills. Many are looking to improve their skills for a definite purpose, such as a new job opportunity or getting into college. Some students want to improve their writing but have a less certain goal in mind about how to use their desired skillset. The bottom line is, writing is the most effective medium of communication and developing this skill can be incredibly useful in attaining one’s professional and personal life goals.
Some tips for writing that I most readily tell students are:
- Get organized. In other words, think about the bigger picture. It helps if you can identify an avenue for how you will use your writing in the future. This organization will help you get a clearer picture of your short-term and long-term goals. For sure, the method of how you develop your writing skill will ultimately depend upon how you plan to use this tool. If you want a job or a new career, then your starting point might be editing your resume and cover letters. Your emails might need editing as well; sending out emails with spelling errors to a potential teacher, advisor, or hiring manager will immediately make the wrong impression, when you actually did nothing wrong except forget to edit yourself. Identify your weak areas and then work with your tutor to decide on how to achieve your future goals.
- Create a schedule to practice. Decide how much time per week you want to dedicate to writing. Just as you set aside time to read the newspaper and brush your teeth, you need to make developing your writing a priority in your daily life as well. Ask your tutor for advice on how to incorporate your writing into your other activities. Perhaps you could be spending your time better studying the meaning of what you read. Since reading makes your writing better, see if you can read more sophisticated or relevant material that will inspire you. The best tips for writing that I can give are to be open to change and influence from others on how to improve your art.
- Focus on the meaning. As writing is the most effective form of communication that we have today, it is an essential tool for all students. A common problem that students face is they write papers or essays without a real intention behind their effort. Take one sentence, and it will be average enough, but finish reading the entire essay and you will find the same idea repeated in different forms 20 times. The analysis might be lacking because the thesis was never truly established. Additionally, it is better to find meaning in every word that you write, rather than every sentence or every paragraph. I often tell students to write “stronger” words rather than “weaker” ones. Strong words identify your context, grab the reader’s attention, and establish the communication of a relationship between author and audience. I say that writing is the most effective medium of communication, because writing is better than speaking when you want to express yourself. A word spoken can be more easily taken back than a written word. As author Aldous Huxley once said, “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
Now that you know these tips for writing, see how well you can do to express yourself in this important mode of communication. Writing is a skill that you can expect to develop your whole life, so now is probably the best time to start. Good luck on your journey!
Rachel M. tutors various subjects in Evanston, IL, as well as online. She has an extensive background teaching and tutoring others, especially in ESL, English, French, and special education. Learn more about Rachel here!