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10 Tips for Faster Writing

6. Outline: You are doomed if you are trying to figure out what you need to say while you are writing it. Papers can be written in minutes only if you know what you are going to say beforehand. This can be a general idea in your head for shorter, page-long papers, or a paragraph by paragraph outline on paper for large, 10 to 20 page research papers.

7. Drink: Okay, no, not really. Although reporter lore dictates that every journalist needs a bottle of whiskey in their bottom draw of their desk, it can make you a really lousy writer. However, when time is short, you need to be bold. Don’t worry about how it sounds; just get your thoughts down. You can run spell-check and fix all those problems later.

8. Save time to read it through: There will be strange phrases in your rough draft. In the rush, you will have left some words out or put words in. You will have misspelled some words. Read through your work, aloud. This will highlight the rough sections of your paper and the typos in a manner that is quick and easy. Fix accordingly.

9. Read backwards: Reading backwards is my trick for quickly proofreading a piece. If you have a few minutes, do this step to ensure you didn’t overlook an embarrassing mistake. Spell-check often does not catch everything. By reading the paper sentence by sentence backwards, you will not be caught up in the flow of your paper. You will not become distracted by what you are saying. Instead, your attention will be on the sentence before you. I find I catch a lot more of my mistakes by reading in this manner—and it doesn’t take much time.

10. Know how much time to spend: After awhile, you will understand the demands of each professor. Some instructors grade tougher on papers than others. In the deluge of work, you will have to prioritize papers and homework. For example, I can spend days on a three page paper for my English classes. In my Politics and Government classes, my professor just wants to know I understand the information. I can spend two hours writing those.

Daniel Jackson is a freelance journalist who has written dozens of news stories as well as articles for magazines. Currently, he is earning his B.A. in Communications with a Journalism emphasis from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.

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