Two Things University Students Should do to Improve Their Writing

Writing is an irreplaceable skill

Cal Newport is no stranger to the written word. He’s published 4 books and has been regularly posting student advice on his popular blog since 2007.

In his book How To Win At College, Cal devotes a few pages to emphasise how important of a skill writing is for any and every university student.

Cal suggests two things when it comes to writing: (1) do extra writing outside of class to perfect your craft, and (2) write as if you’re going for a Pulitzer.

Do extra writing

Writing is most certainly a central element to your university experience. In order to master this skill, Cal suggests extra writing. That means writing up your assignments and essays and then some.

Here’s Cal:

“You can accomplish this by joining the staff of a publication on campus. It could be the daily newspaper, a writing magazine, a science journal, a political paper, or a humour rag.

It doesn’t matter what publication you choose as long as it require you to write well and write often.”

Write as if going for a Pulitzer

 “This prize is given each year to a work that ‘illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation (…).

These articles typically move deftly from anecdote, to question, to theory, then back again, pulling you deep into the core issues surround the issue at hand.”

Cal drives home the message to play around with your writing.

Have fun with it and enjoy the process of perfecting your craft.

Channel your enthusiasm and energy to create a work that is both aesthetically pleasing and of great content and substance.

Offer up a narrative-driven story and an all-round intellectually stimulating experience for the reader.

“Writing is still hard, and it always will be, but it’s exciting to craft an engaging passage, or use a particularly novel sentence structure, or build a paragraph around an interesting rhetorical rhythm.

It puts creativity back into your work. You look forward to having someone read it. It adds an element of flair to what otherwise would be an entirely tedious process.”


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