Believe it or not, a writing plan is easy to create. Whatever your writing assignment is, it can be difficult to get started. One of the biggest problems people encounter is learning how to properly structure their writing so that it makes sense, and gets their point across.
Whether you’re tasked with writing case studies, essays, book reports, annotated bibliographies, term papers or even short stories, the challenge is there. All writing tasks need to make sense to the reader – they need to flow, to provide arguments and citations and they need to leave the reader with a sense of completion or ‘action’ at the end.
Some writing tasks are quite easy and even fun; others are very challenging and time-consuming. Often, it’s when we have to do something that we don’t consider one of our strengths, that we find challenges arise.
One example might be research projects. These often require sustained effort over time as well as multiple drafts. Obviously, the more detailed an assignment is, the more complex it seems. To really succeed in writing, you’ll need a strong knowledge of the subject matter (which can be learned!) and statements and arguments to back up your points – otherwise, your writing will be “fluff” and won’t leave the reader feeling fulfilled.
Combining all these elements is sometimes extremely difficult – even for those of us who already have certain experience in writing long academic papers, essays or other types of tasks. The Internet is full of “help me write my dissertation” requests from people all over the world.
The good news is that even the hardest writing assignment can be completed more easily by simply breaking it up into workable pieces. The following guide will teach you how to do it right.
Your simple guide to planning a writing task
Make sure you clearly understand the task
What are you really tasked with doing? Read and reread the assignment to clearly understand what you are being asked to do. Break the task into separate parts to find the keywords that can help you determine what type of task you should be writing. Decide on the tone and style and write a brief, bullet-pointed plan.
Create a working schedule
Break your writing task into manageable chunks and set deadlines for each of them. Keep in mind that some tasks require more time than others, so carefully think about a timeline. Stick to your schedule as much as possible.
Find credible resources
This is one of the most essential things to do. Conducting solid research is probably the most time-consuming step in writing anything, whether it’s an assignment, research paper, essay or even story. You need to look for credible sources in order to find reliable information that directly correlates to your writing assignment.
Analyse the information
Once you find useful books, journals, and articles, you need to analyse the information in order to come up with something fresh and interesting you can use in your work. Look to the experts in your writing field and try to find differing points of view. Use quotes and citations. Link where possible to your sources.
Build a solid “thesis statement”
A thesis is your main idea and a focus for the whole paper, so take your time to develop a good one. What is the single most important point or “thrust” of your argument? Try to nail this down in a sentence or two. Keep in mind that at this stage of writing, you can use a “working thesis” and revise it after the first draft is complete. Keep your ideas flexible in the planning stage.
Create an outline
An outline serves as a road map that helps organise your thoughts into a logical sequence and present them in a way that “makes sense”. Use your outline to identify the main arguments and find ways to insert the supporting evidence you want to use in your work. Think of your readers first.
Plan the structure of the assignment
Write down all your ideas and points, then divide your work into rough paragraphs. This will help you develop headings and subtopics you can use to answer the “thesis statement” you have come up with.
Write your first draft
Use the outline to write your first draft. Don’t start with a fixed introductory paragraph; come up with a “rough” one that you will clean up later. It is better to write a solid, well, thought out introduction after all the other parts of your paper are complete. As well as this, you don’t need to edit your writing at this stage. Drafts serve as a way to put your thoughts down on paper for further refinement.
Revise your paper
Read and reread your draft/s to make sure they’re written according to the requirements of the task at hand. Check your thesis statement and whether your arguments and conclusions support it. Make changes and add details if necessary.
Edit and proofread
Last but not least – no piece of work is complete until you have edited it to final draft stage. This is a good time to ask for feedback from someone you trust, such as a colleague, classmate or trusted friend. Ask them to help you find all the errors and typos you might have missed. Fresh eyes and a new perspective can be invaluable. Then – carefully proofread your work once again before submitting it, or publishing it.
Ready, set – go and create a writing plan!
Writing does not have to be a major headache. If you break up your writing assignment into smaller tasks, you will be surprised at how much easier it can be to complete it on time. Don’t try to do everything at once – take a step-by-step approach, and you are guaranteed to improve your writing over time.