Writing skills are very fundamental skills for all kinds of purposes, but especially when writing essays. It is very difficult to write a good essay without the proper writing skills. Although everyone claims he or she can write a good essay, many people lack the needed skills that make an essay a polished piece of writing. The difference between professional writers and the everyday person is that the professional writer has writing skills that makes his or her essays stand out.
Writing skills are very essential when writing any kind of an essay. Many students do not possess the good writing skills that are very important. Students should admit to themselves that this is among their greatest weaknesses and seek help from professionals who are very competent in their essay writing skills. Good writing skills involve the ability to write an essay that is free from grammatical errors, with a good content as well as style and structure. A good writer must understand and progress through the writing process, which includes prewriting, writing, revision, and proofreading.
Part of the writing process is in knowing who the intended audience is and the purpose of the writing. In many cases, students fail to understand their audience or how to relate to that audience. If the student knows in advance that the writing is to target a specific audience, then the student needs to know what interest that audience and what kinds of opinions that audience is likely to have on certain subjects. Students start writing their essays without first identifying their audience which is very wrong.
Another fallacy that students often commit is failing to create an outline that will assist them in organizing their thoughts, thus ensuring that no points are left out when writing the essay. An outline helps to ensure that the essay has a clear flow and that every point is well explained. Besides the outline, students must take seriously the use of good grammar as well as utilization of appropriate stylistic techniques. Essays written by professionals are always reader friendly because the professionals make use of headings, subheadings, and listing whenever possible. These strategies help the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought. Moreover, readers find it easier to read a page that has been broken down to small paragraphs than a page with long paragraphs. An essay that is easily scanned is quite attractive to the reader.
These are some of the writing skills that many students do not possess. Although professional writers utilize these strategies, students can learn them as well. However, they must spend time and diligence in understanding what makes good writing, and then they must practice.
How to Write a Reflective Essay on Writing Skills
An individual who wishes to become an accomplished writer must learn to reflect on his writing. An effective strategy is to develop a writing portfolio.
This is a collection of writing the person does over a period of time. Part of that portfolio is writing reflective essays. For example, if the individual writes a story, he can then write a reflective essay on that story. He can critique himself on his plot structure and character development. He can discuss what he was trying to accomplish and how well he succeeded. If the individual is critiquing his general writing skills, then he might choose a piece he wrote at the beginning of the school year and compare it to a piece he wrote at the end of the school year. He might note improvements he has made in vocabulary development, sentence structure, organization of ideas, and development of a thesis. In summary, the purpose of a reflective essay on writing is to examine one’s own writing to identify strengths and weaknesses and to establish goals for improvement.
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Although it was almost three years ago now that I began to write my undergraduate history thesis on “Ideas of Sovereignty in 13th century Europe,” the memory of this process still clings vividly to my mind. To date, writing this thesis has been one of the hardest processes I have put myself through. There were many factors that made writing this thesis difficult and after my time at GMU’s Writing Center here at I realize not only did I learn a lot about writing from him and the process of evolving as a writer, but I learned a lot about the discipline of history as well.
Taking the time to reflect on learning is important and I am glad that the Writing Center has offered me a space to reflect on experiences I have had such as writing my thesis. The fact that I had to write a large yet focused paper began to change my writing process and complicated matters for me. I didn’t understand why I was struggling so much to write my thesis. Now I understand that my struggle was that I was trying to implement the tools and knowledge I had in regards to writing a 10-20 page paper into writing a 50-75 page paper, and that just doesn’t work.
I wish while writing my thesis I would have been able to recognize the shift in my writing process as it was happening. Taking the time to stop and realize your writing process is changing is important; ignoring this fact can complicate matters for you too. Having the ability to stop and acknowledge you are potentially having “growing pains” as a writer can save you a lot of headaches. Acknowledge this will help you begin to accept how your writing style is beginning to change instead of fighting it.
Trying to cling to your old habits as you are evolving as a writer is detrimental to your writing process. For example, I was used to dealing with maybe ten sources max for a research paper. Now I was staring in the face of 25-45 sources, and my ways of processing the information from those sources and integrating them in a paper were not up to par because it was too much. Instead of recognizing the importance of taking less detailed actual notes and making summaries of authors’ main points for each source that I could refer back to, I tried to take detailed notes over books that had thousands of pages—this process just didn’t work.
After turning my first 10 pages in for my thesis advisor to look at, they were all shot down. Instead of starting fresh—in retrospect it is apparent that that is what I should have done, none of my paper was working—I tried to bend and shape my first 10 pages through edits. If I had to do it all again it would not take two months of trying to edit 10 pages that just weren’t working to throw them out the window and start of scratch. I would have realized that revision sometimes means throwing away what has been written and that throwing away paper does not mean throwing away the ideas those pages hold. In your own writing process pay careful attention to when you feel most frustrated and are experiencing the most cognitive dissonance because it is in these moments where something in your writing process is going awry, it is part of your writing process that is calling for a change.
So, when it comes to your writing process and the process of evolving as a writer, be aware that you’re always changing. If I were more aware this was happening I would have been better able to embrace the confusion I was having rather than trying to fight it. I would have been a much more successful writer. As Alanis Morisette so famously says, “What it all comes down to, is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet.” And the fact of the matter is that when it comes to our writing processes, none of us will ever have “figured it out,” and that is because our writing is an ever-changing process So, next time you seemingly “hit a wall” in your writing process, accept it, and see where your writing process is taking you, see what you can learn from it, and enjoy the journey of becoming a stronger writer.
March 29, 2015