Writing good papers is a skill, and like any other skill, doing it well takes knowledge and practice. It is important to remember that it is not always effective to focus on the grade you receive for an individual paper. Instead, you should focus on the amount of progress or improvement you are able to make in your writing over a whole semester or even a whole year.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few things you can do to help improve your writing:
- Read more. Reading more books or articles from well-edited sources (journals, magazines (in print or online) can help you internalize proper grammatical patterns (without having to spend hours talking about grammar), expand your vocabulary, improve your spelling, along with many other benefits (including decreasing your stress levels). The catch is that it has to be well-written, longer-form material, not some random’s Instagram feed or a Twitter thread, because as entertaining as these can be, they are probably full of the bad writing habits you are trying to break.
- Read the feedback your instructor gives you and meet with your instructor to discuss the feedback. The best way to learn how to improve your future writing is to learn from the mistakes you have already made; otherwise, you will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Talk to your instructor to make sure you understand what their comments mean, then actually try to rewrite those sections of your paper to see if you can correct the errors (yes, even if the paper can’t be resubmitted for marks).
- Visit the Writing Specialist. Bring the paper with your instructor’s feedback (and maybe your attempted rewrites) to your appointment, and the Writing Specialist can talk you through different ways to repair various writing mistakes or essay structure problems so that you won’t make the same mistakes on your next paper. By making baby-steps in writing improvement on each paper you submit, you can easily improve your writing over the course of a semester.