16 Things I’ve Learned From Writing In College

Writing isn’t just about finding the right words to say. It’s about research, exploring, and being bold enough to share your work with the world. 

Through my experiences writing in college, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to communicate effectively in written form. Here are 16 tips for getting better at writing in college (and beyond):

What I Learned About Writing in 2019! – YouTube
1. Effective time management is crucial for balancing academic and writing commitments.
2. Feedback from peers and instructors can greatly improve writing skills.
3. Embracing diverse writing assignments helps in developing versatility.
4. Thorough research enhances the quality and credibility of writing.
5. Editing and proofreading are essential steps for producing polished work.
6. Developing a clear thesis statement is the foundation of a strong essay.
7. Engaging introductions and conclusions create a lasting impact.
8. Incorporating evidence and examples supports persuasive arguments.
9. Active voice and concise language improve readability.
10. Proper citation and referencing prevent plagiarism.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Write Your Ideas Down

It’s easy to get excited about an idea and want to write it down right away, but often you’ll find that your best writing happens when you sit down and get started. 

Many writers who have been doing this for a long time are able to think in terms of plot and characters without writing anything down. 

This is amazing, but if you’re just starting as a writer, don’t try this yet! You will thank yourself later if you get ideas out of your head onto some paper or into a computer file before they slip away from memory.

There are many reasons why taking the extra few minutes (or seconds) to jot something down will be worth it:

You can’t remember everything. The more ideas we have floating around our minds at once, the harder it becomes for us to finish any one thing we start working on. 

By getting our thoughts out on paper or into an application like Evernote immediately after they come into our heads, we free up brain space so that other creative thoughts can take their place instead of being lost forever in the land of forgotten dreams.

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2. You Can Have A Personal Relationship With Your Topic

In the first place, writing is a way for you to have a personal relationship with your topic. Your audience will never be able to share all of your experiences in life, but by writing about what matters most to you, they’ll get as close as they can. 

This is especially true if there are other people out there who feel the same way about what you’ve written. Writing allows us to express ourselves and share our passions with others in ways that no other medium can match. 

If it’s something we care about enough to spend time thinking about or talking about, then it should be something we’re willing to put on paper or into words and once those words are out there (or in front of us onscreen).

They become part of our records forever as well as part of someone else’s record if they choose to read them or share them with others!

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3. You Don’t Have To Be A Pro To Do This

As someone who had never written about anything before college, I was surprised by how much of my writing has been about my own experiences. 

I’ve learned that you don’t even need to be an expert on your subject matter to write about it you just need to care enough about it that you’re willing to learn more and then share what you’ve learned with others.

There are so many things that people take for granted when they start writing; things like grammar rules or spelling rules can seem like a mystery until one day when they become second nature. 

Similarly, once upon a time, I thought writing was all about having perfect sentences and beautiful prose it wasn’t until later on that I realized that there are different kinds of writers who specialize in different types of writing styles (including those who aren’t particularly good at them). 

The point is this: don’t worry if what your professor asks seems daunting at first glance; chances are these assignments will become easier as time goes on!

4. It’s Okay If Your Topic Changes

I’ll never forget the first time I read “The Sound and the Fury”, by William Faulkner. In it, he describes a character who suffers from mental illness that makes him an unreliable narrator. 

The description was so vivid and haunting, so perfectly crafted, that when I finished reading it, I had an epiphany: maybe my writing could be like this!

I spent hours trying to capture some of the magic of Faulkner’s prose in my work. But as much as I tried to imitate his style, something seemed off I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing until one day someone told me: “This is different than what you usually write.”

When they said this, they meant that while other topics tend towards fiction or nonfiction (or both!) with explicit points being made about them and/or their themes being explored through characters’ voices; 

This topic tends towards neither theme nor character voice but rather explores its process of discovery through multiple viewpoints which themselves are not bound by genre conventions.

5. Good Writing Is About More Than The Words You Put On The Page

The most important thing to know about good writing is that it’s not just the words you choose to include in your essay. It’s how they’re used, and how they’re used relative to the topic and audience. 

In other words, good writing isn’t just about what you say it’s also about why you say it and who will be listening when you do so.

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6. Don’t Limit Yourself Too Much

A lot of people, especially those who are new to writing, think that they have to keep their writing in a certain style and genre. But this can be quite limiting and boring if you don’t push your boundaries and try different things once in a while. 

As I mentioned before, my first article was a personal essay about my experience with depression and because of that article’s success (in terms of views!), I became more confident about what types of topics I could write about in future pieces. 

Nowadays, I’m not afraid to experiment with different formats, for example, one recent article was written entirely as an email exchange between two characters from an imaginary show called “Letters From My Future Self” (“I miss this show,” said one friend). 

But it can be hard at first! It still feels weird typing the word “email” instead of “mail.”

So don’t limit yourself too much; go out there and find something worth talking about!

7. It’s Important, To Be Honest With Yourself And Others

Honesty is a simple concept, but one that can be extremely challenging to master. Honesty not only allows you to give your best, but it also helps you grow as an individual.

Being honest with yourself and others requires having the courage to face your own demons head-on and be open to constructive criticism from other people.

To do this, you must be able to identify what exactly makes you feel comfortable versus uncomfortable in certain situations or circumstances. 

For example, I’ve learned that my true self feels most comfortable when I am writing about something I’m passionate about–for me this happens most often when writing about feminism or social justice issues because these topics are close to my heart.

8. There’s Always More To Explore

Writing is a journey. It’s not a destination, but rather a road that stretches on forever. There are always more topics to explore, more ways to approach your writing, and new styles waiting for you to discover.

Don’t be afraid of change! Sometimes you’ll learn that your original idea wasn’t as interesting or useful as you thought it was; sometimes new ideas will come along and blow your mind with their brilliance (and don’t forget to give credit where it’s due). 

The point is: There’s no reason not to experiment just make sure you’re experimenting for the right reasons.

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9. Don’t Settle For The First Research Source You Find

As I mentioned in the first lesson, the first step to finding a good source is to look at your topic and think about what kind of information you need. 

Then, search Google or another research tool for sources that meet those needs. When looking at sources, don’t settle for the first one you find. Instead, use a variety of search terms to find different perspectives on a topic before deciding which one is best suited for your essay.

When looking through results from a simple Google search (or any other search engine), try including words like “alongside”, “in addition”, “not only,” and so on to broaden the scope of your results beyond just direct hits on what you’re looking for. 

For example: If I wanted information about how my dog’s behavior affects my mental health but only wanted websites that are specifically related to dogs or mental health (and not both), I would type something like this into Google: 

How does my dog affect my mental health? The response might include pages where dogs were mentioned without necessarily affecting anyone’s mental health (like this page). 

However, if instead, I added some modifiers such as “alongside”, it would return more relevant results like this article from Psychology Today, which discusses how our pets help us deal with stressors like loneliness

10. You Don’t Need To Wait For Permission To Start Writing Anything

The most satisfying thing about writing is that it’s something you can do whenever, wherever and however you want. You don’t need a degree or certification or special equipment—you just need yourself and a pen (or laptop). 

Your ideas don’t have to be perfect, either: they can be messy, full of typos and mistakes. The more practice you get in making mistakes, the better equipped you’ll be when it comes time for revision!

11. You Can Have Fun With A Lot Of Topics, Even If They Sound Seriously Boring

The first thing I learned is that you can have fun with a lot of topics, even if they sound seriously boring. For example, did you know that accounting is an art? Or that the average American consumes 126 gallons of soda per year?

It’s easy to make these things more interesting by giving examples and details. So instead of writing “The average American consumes 126 gallons of soda per year,” try something like:

“The average American consumes 126 gallons of soda per year that’s about four cans for every day!” or “The average American consumes 126 gallons of soda per year that’s the equivalent volume of five bathtubs filled with water!”

By using different words and phrases, we’ve made a topic that sounds rather dull into something fascinating!

12. Always Ask Yourself Why A Topic Is Interesting Enough For Someone

The first thing to always ask yourself before beginning a new piece of writing is what makes the topic interesting. If you do not find something about your subject worth getting excited about, no one else will either.

If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, then why should anyone else be? You might think that other people just want to read your words because they don’t know any better. But the reality is that if they see that your content doesn’t interest you, they won’t care either.

So make sure you have a good reason for writing about a topic before even starting on it! It is also important to remember that whatever topic you choose must be relevant and useful for others as well. 

There are few things more annoying than reading an article or listening to someone talk about something without any clear point or conclusion at all!

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13. Your Writing Doesn’t Have An Expiration Date

Writing can be a scary thing. It’s a skill that you can always improve and critique, but it’s also something that you’ll have with you for the rest of your life. 

This is something I learned in college; when I was younger, I would read my writing over and over again until I felt like it was perfect. 

Then I’d spend hours trying to make edits on it so that not one sentence was out of place or included an incorrect word choice. But when my essays started being edited by professors who had much more experience than me in writing, things changed.

People are always going to have opinions about what they read, regardless of how good or bad it is so why bother caring? 

Sometimes writers will change their minds on their ideas after doing research or thinking through an essay more thoroughly; other times they need another person’s perspective before making any changes at all (or even starting work on the piece). 

Either way, there’s no rulebook dictating what should happen next you get to decide how valuable each suggestion is based on how well they work with your own goals as a writer!

14. You Don’t Need To Limit Yourself By Following One Style Guide Or Another

I find that style guides aren’t always the best way to communicate. They’re too strict, and there are a million of them floating around.

For example, the AP Stylebook has been around since 1953 but it’s not always consistent with itself.

In addition, when I was in college I had a professor who said “write as you speak” which sounds great until you realize that no one speaks in complete sentences or phrases every time they talk. It’s an impossible standard!

So while having some sort of guide is helpful at first (and even throughout your writing career), don’t feel like you have to follow it precisely if you want something different for your voice and style especially if someone else has already done it for you!

15. If You Use “I” In One Section, It’s Okay

As a writer, your use of “I” can either be frustrating or useful. It all depends on how you use it.

In most cases, using “I” is okay when writing an academic paper. 

Many professors encourage their students to do so because it shows that they are willing to take ownership over their work and this can be helpful for the reader who may not have the same knowledge base as the author does about a particular topic.

If you want to make sure that your professor isn’t going to raise any red flags while reading through your paper, here are some tips:

Use “I” sparingly and only when necessary (such as when referring back to something specific). 

If there are multiple times where one could include an example from their own life experience but doesn’t need one, then don’t force it in just for fun! 

This makes for boring reading and distracts from key ideas that deserve more attention instead of being overshadowed by thematic elements such as personal anecdotes (which also happens often).

Avoid using pronouns like ‘me’ or ‘myself’ too much; try using more concrete nouns instead whenever possible (e.g., “The student,” not “I”).

16. Learning How To Explain Something Effectively

Explaining is a way of making something more clear. It’s about telling the reader what you mean, without using a lot of extra words or phrases that just confuse them. 

For example, “The boy crawled under the fence and into his neighbor’s yard” could be rewritten as “The boy crawled under the fence and into his neighbor’s yard to retrieve a ball he had accidentally kicked there earlier.” 

The second version gives more information about what happened the boy had kicked a ball over into his neighbor’s yard; this means he went over to get it back and it also adds detail about why: because he wanted to play with it again. 

But by explaining how much simpler this sentence is than its predecessor, we can see how much clearer writing becomes when we use explaining instead of describing!

For readers to understand what your story means or where it’s going (which is important!), they need access points so they don’t get lost in an overly complicated narrative world while still maintaining interest levels. 

The easiest way I’ve found myself doing this is by asking myself whether or not I would have understood what happened if someone told me their story as they were experiencing it? 

If no one else was around and all my friends disappeared after graduation day tomorrow night (which isn’t likely but still), would I know everything everyone was talking about?


I like to think that these tips have been helpful for you, but more than anything I hope they’ve inspired you. 

Writing is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating, confusing, and even intimidating at times. With that said, it’s important to remember that we all start somewhere. 

The earlier you learn how to write effectively in college the better off you’ll be not only for yourself but also for your professors! 

As an English major myself (and a student who has struggled with writing), I know how difficult it can get when assignments pile up or deadlines loom overhead. Hopefully, these tips help make things easier on both ends of the pen!

Further Reading

Explore these resources to enhance your writing skills and gain more insights:

Improving Your Writing Skills: Discover practical tips and techniques to elevate your writing abilities.

College Learning: Reading and Writing Reflection: Read about one student’s reflection on their college reading and writing experiences.

15 Lessons from My First Year of Writing: Learn from a writer’s journey and the lessons they gathered during their initial year of writing.


What are some effective strategies for improving my writing skills?

Enhancing your writing skills involves consistent practice, seeking feedback, and studying various writing techniques from experienced writers. Consider reading writing guides and participating in workshops to refine your craft.

How can college reading and writing experiences contribute to personal growth?

College courses focused on reading and writing provide opportunities to develop critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills. Engaging with diverse texts and expressing ideas coherently can foster intellectual growth.

What are some common challenges faced in the first year of writing?

During the first year of writing, individuals often encounter challenges such as finding their unique voice, overcoming writer’s block, managing time effectively, and honing their writing style.

How do reflections on college reading and writing experiences offer valuable insights?

Reflecting on college reading and writing experiences allows individuals to assess their growth, identify strengths and weaknesses, and gain a deeper understanding of their learning journey.

How can learning from others’ writing journeys benefit aspiring writers?

Learning from the experiences of other writers provides valuable insights into the writing process, strategies for overcoming obstacles, and the opportunity to avoid common pitfalls.