Weekly Digest #39: Writing Strategies for Students

Weekly Digest #39: Writing Strategies for Students

This week’s digest was contributed by Emerging Scholar student Syeda Nizami @sniz77, who runs the Learning Scientists Tumblr and has previously contributed a guest blog post.

There is nothing worse than writing that first paragraph of an essay. The crippling onset of writer’s block is inevitable, and can easily spiral into a circle of procrastination, until only one day remains before the essay is due. This is one of the many problems students face when writing essays, and a lot of things can go wrong. However, there are many strategies students can employ to avoid these pitfalls, and here we present a compilation of resources to help you along with getting started, planning, and actually writing your essays!


1) Berkeley's Student Learning Center's Pre-Writing Techniques

Before you start writing, pre-writing is an important technique that can help you avoid the familiar writer’s block that many students experience before writing an essay. Pre-writing is preliminary work that is done before any actual paper writing, and includes activities such as brainstorming, freewriting, clustering/mindmapping, and question-asking. This resource describes and explains each one of these techniques and more, in detail, even giving concrete examples for each one. I find freewriting to be one of the more useful one, allowing you to bypass what I call “blank page syndrome” by gettings some words onto the screen.


2) SUNY Empire State College’s Strategies for Academic Writing

When you receive a prompt or a detailed assignment for a paper, it may be overwhelming and nervewracking at first. It may even make you re-evaluate why you even took this particular class – but don’t these thoughts get to you. There are several steps that SUNY Empire State College outlines for this situation. They also give advice on how to manage your time, deal with the dreadful writer’s block, and about writing in general. This useful resource can help rescue you from the depths of procrastination and writer’s block and help you get started on your assignment.

Image from linked source

Image from linked source


3) University of Leicester’s Writing Essays Study Guide

This resource deals with essay writing – something that is key in most college majors. It outlines why essays are used to evaluate a student’s understanding of the material and strategies to structure an essay, how to address an audience in an essay, and even outlining what each part of an essay should include. This resource does a good job of summarizing the key points that a student needs to know when writing an essay.

Image from linked source

Image from linked source


4) Harvard College Writing Center’s Strategies for Essay Writing

This resource discusses many different types of essays, from close readings to the classic academic essay to the comparative essay. It presents all of this and more in an easy-to-follow guide with links to each specific part of the guide. Starting a new type of essay is difficult at first, as every essay has a different structure, needs, and varies in length, subject matter, and even style. For example, the section on developing a thesis was incredibly useful to me when I first started working on my own thesis. The guide also includes tips on grammar and punctuation.


5) Easybib’s Writing Guide

Most students who know of Easybib use it for citations. But Easybib is not only a useful citation tool – it also has a lot of online resources for students, including a guide on writing academic papers in five easy steps! The guide gives advice on brainstorming, researching, outlining, writing, proofreading, and revising. They also maintain their own blog, in which they discuss issues related to student writing. 

Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our 5 most recent digests can be found here:

Weekly Digest #34: Time Management

Weekly Digest #35: Taking Care of Yourself

Weekly Digest #36: How to Raise a Bilingual Child

Weekly Digest #37: Teaching Spelling

Weekly Digest #38: Teaching Spelling with Deep Underlying Structures