Before you write your next paper, write an outline

If you read the subject of this post and thought “oh no, an outline! What a waste of time,” you’re probably not alone.
Many times, we just think it is easer to sit in front of our computers and let the words flow. But having an outline can really save a lot of time and frustration when you’re working on your next essay. An outline is a roadmap to your paper. When you’re sitting in front of the computer and you suddenly can’t figure out what to write next, take a look at your outline for a clue.
An article published at the popular Website Lifehacker advises that we remember to create full outlines. We tend to only create outlines based on topics or questions, but as the article suggests, including answers to your questions will make for a more pleasant writing experience.
Say, for example, we are writing an essay about Braille. One question or topic we might discuss is: how do you form the Braille alphabet. Instead of writing that in our outline and moving onto the next topic, we would first describe how the Braille alphabet is formed. That way, the details are al there, waiting to be worked into our paper.
Here’s the link to the Lifehacker article.

Proofread with Your Ears

Whether you’re writing an email to a professor or polishing that dreaded end-of-semester term-paper, proofreading should be an essential step before you finalize your work. Careful proofreading can help you locate grammar problems and give you an overall picture of the clarity and structure of your writing.
When you think of proofreading, you probably think of reading over your writing with a pen in your hand, or painstakingly going through your paper with your computer, or maybe embossing a copy in Braille and reading it line by line. While you should proofread your work carefully in these ways, there’s another way that involves more than reading. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your ears when proofreading your work:
1. Take your piece of writing and read it out loud. Imagine that it’s someone else’s work; that will help you check that it makes sense.
2. If you’re blind and have access to a Braille display, you can read it from there.
3. Focus on the sound of your voice. Are you noticing that you’re not pausing where there should be sentence breaks? Do you have too many pauses in your sentences? Are you hearing the same words used over and over again?
4. If you’re using a screen-reader, let it read your writing in its entirety first. After reviewing your paper as a whole, then go back and correct errors you may have heard along the way, and examine your paper in more detail.
5. Try changing the voice of your screen-reader. Sometimes, hearing text with a new voice will give you fresh perspective.
5. Create a sound-scheme for editing if your screen-reader allows. This can help clarify where you’ve used (or forgotten to use), different type set.
6. If you have a recorder, record yourself reading your work out loud. Play your work back the next day. Sleeping on your writing can give you fresh perspective, as well. After stepping away from your paper for a while, you might realize that your body paragraphs don’t relate very well to each other and your introduction.
7. Ask someone to read your work out loud. In addition to helping you spot errors, hearing your writing read back in someone else’s voice might cause a lightbulb to go off in your head. Perhaps that sentence really belongs in the previous paragraph…
While proofreading takes time, it might just help you make that A on your next paper, or help you express yourself more clearly when you’re writing an important message.