Some helpful general writing tips

1. Do not wait until you have gathered all your material to begin writing. Once you have some idea of your topic, you should start writing.


2. Do not avoid writing something down for fear of having to change it later. When you have an idea, you should write it down even if it is out of place. With modern word processor technology, changes can be made quickly and easily.


3. After you have begun writing, do not stop. That way, you won't lose your train of thought.


4. If you become mired on a particular part, reread your previous several pages to see if you can use continuity of thought to push you past your difficulty.


5. Always be on the lookout for ideas, facts, or words that may make a good beginning to a new section or chapter of your writing.


6. Often an opening paragraph will, upon rereading, seem alien to that which follows it. Such an occurrence is no cause for great concern and can be remedied through rephrasing or removal.


7. You should know your preferences and peculiarities regarding the mechanics of composition, whether you prefer to write a draft in pen first and then type it or how you like your books and notes positioned. Other important factors may include lighting, posture, and clothing. By indulging yourself with these seeming trivialities, you will have no excuse to put off your task, and the future presence of these factors will elicit good working habits.


The preceding list was paraphrased and edited for length. The original can be found in The Modern Researcher (Barzun & Graff, 387-89).

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