What’s the secret to good writing?

You’ve read hundreds of writing tips from all the Mondays you’ve spent following our blog. You’ve heard from experts, authors, professors, students, and our very own counselors. Countless articles have argued that good writing takes time and a lot of editing (and they’re not wrong), but as a Writing Counselor, I’ve learned that you need only three things to write effectively: clarity, conviction, and courage.

The biggest obstacle to achieving clarity in a paper is being unprepared. As a writing counselor, I urge students to spend a good amount of time just thinking about their prompt. Brainstorm all conceivable ideas and arguments you could write about in your paper. Then, prepare an outline, diagram, or chart to organize your thoughts. These pre-writing steps will ensure that by the time you start writing, you will know exactly what you’re talking about.

In addition to being absolutely clear and direct when you’re writing, writers like us also have be convincing! It’s not enough these days to simply put forth an argument—you’ve got to support it too. Conviction, in writing or speech, is as much rooted in evidence and examples as it is in your voice and tone throughout your paper. Creating a strong, clear, and thoughtful thesis statement is the first step to being a convincing writer. Your thesis is the roadmap to your whole paper—it gives readers an idea of the direction in which you are going. In order to make your paper convincing, you must structure your paper to follow your thesis. The best and most convincing papers I’ve read are those with paragraphs that clearly refer back to the thesis statement.

Now, clarity and conviction relate more to the technical aspects of writing effectively. There is one more thing that creates powerful writers: having courage. It’s not simply having the courage to write a paper—I’m talking about the kind of courage that provokes original and thoughtful ideas. It’s being able to write out of the box–beyond the numbered guidelines given to you by a professor. To be a powerful writer, whether its academically or creatively, you’ve got to have the courage to write something that has implications; something that will raise questions.

Don’t be afraid of your own ideas. Remember, writing is the ultimate form of self-expression. Every paper that you write should reflect your voice. Be clear, be convincing, and be courageous! Happy writing!




Post submitted by: Miqi Cos


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