There are so many websites, books, and other resources to help you improve writing skills, study skills, and more. Here are 8 awesome ideas from San Diego, CA tutor Natalie S...
Beginning and completing a piece of writing can be a scary process. To some students, it may feel like there are a lot of unknown variables. It takes a long time to outline an essay. It requires a lot of brainstorming and organization. There isn’t a specific formula. There isn’t a right or a wrong, just a subjective grading system that attempts to follow a detailed rubric. There’s so much pressure to create something that is valuable that many students simply give up in their quest to improve their writing. Luckily, there is a plethora of resources available to help you learn how to write, edit, and grow as both a student and a writer!
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
This book is one of the most commonly used texts in college creative writing courses, but it actually applies to any genre of writing, including essays. It gives concise and encouraging advice about drafting prose, and it emphasizes that writers shouldn’t stress over the big picture. Instead, Lamott advises writers to calm down, and take it step by step. This is a quick, simple read that can be used by anyone who wants to improve his or her writing skills.
This online resource offers information about how sentences work and how they should be structured. Use this website to learn grammar rules and to strengthen your prose. Take notes on any grammar tip you didn’t already know, and keep the notes next to you when editing your papers. This is a great resource for high school or college students.
This website quizzes your vocabulary knowledge about the most commonly used words in the English language. This resource works best for high school students, as the lists are often geared toward the SATs. The website includes a leaderboard, blog, and customizable vocabulary lists, so you can learn the words that matter most to you.
Are you having trouble motivating yourself to write even a single word? Improve your writing skills by using a website like WriteTrack, which maps and charts your daily writing progress via your word count. Set a goal for yourself and watch as your graph grows! Need more motivation? Try websites like Written Kitten, Write or Die, or Write or Die 2.
5. The Purdue Online Writing Lab
Purdue has gathered writing resources for all ages and levels on their website. Take some time to browse and you’ll find a plethora of information, tools, and practice tests to help you improve your writing skills. Whether your focus is vocabulary, grammar, or research questions, this database can point you toward the answers you’re looking for.
6. Friends, Family, and Tutors
One of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to get other to critique your work! Are you having trouble in a creative writing class? Ask a friend or family member for some honest feedback. Struggling with a history paper? Speak to a classmate and see if they are willing to brainstorm with you. If you aren’t in an academic setting, and you don’t have any peers to review your writing, try joining an online community. Not sure where to start? NaNoWriMo and Friday Night Writes are great options. Finally, working with a writing tutor can be helpful for any age or level.
This is useful for all English students. Most professors or teachers of humanities courses require students to use MLA style formatting and citations. The MLA style guide will help guarantee that you get full credit for formatting your essays.
Most of all, read anything and everything! The best way to become a better writer is to first become a better reader. Find a genre that interests you, and read anything you can get your hands on. Talk to your local library or your teachers for recommendations.
With these simple tips and resources, you can quickly improve both your academic and creative writing no matter what your age.
Natalie S. tutors in English, ESL, History, Phonics, Reading, and Test Prep in San Diego, as well as through online lessons. She received her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware, and her MA in English Literature at San Diego State University. Learn more about Natalie here!
Photo by Frederic Guillory