5 Strategies to Help You Write More in Your Writing Degree Program

Photo from Kat Stokes on Unsplash. Edited by the author.

Is earning your degree still a priority?

This could be the question you have as you think about returning to college.

But if getting your degree is still important, have you thought of why you’re losing interest?

Maybe it’s because you’re burned out, you’re no longer interested, or you’ve developed some poor study habits. When that happens, writing more is the last activity you want to pursue. That’s understandable, because writing in itself is a form of mental and physical exercise.

But the problem presents itself when you spend less time on your studies. Without intervention, you may find yourself losing interest. Such an outcome would be unfortunate, especially if you were once passionate about earning your degree.

But performing well in your online degree program is achievable. The solution to getting back on track in your degree program is writing more, not less.

While any student can benefit from writing, students enrolled in Creative Writing or English-related degrees will find these strategies most helpful.

But if you’re not pursuing a writing degree, you can still benefit from knowing how writing more will help you in your degree program.

But first take a closer look at how writing more can help students succeed in an online writing degree program.

Why does writing more help students enrolled in an online degree program?

Writing allows you to put what you see, hear, and learn into your own words. And yet, that process isn’t limited to subjects you learn about in an online degree program.

As you write more, you may notice these changes you might not have picked up on before:

· You feel more organized and focused.

· You’re more aware of changes in your study habits, and

· More writing ideas come to mind the more you write.

The challenge of finding meaning in subjects helps you become a better student and a better writer. And yet, research from 2018 showed a pattern of declining writing activity among college students.

The study surveyed 1,140 students enrolled in a four-year university in the U.S. Students whose families were less religious and students who claimed they had liberal beliefs were less likely to have been assigned a 10-page writing assignment.

Students who grew up abroad and African-American male students were also less likely to have been assigned a 10-page writing assignment.

The data shows that external factors can contribute to the reasons students aren’t writing as much. These factors are important to understand when you’re learning how to start writing more.

Writing more isn’t easy. If anything, the more writing you do in college, the more writing you feel like you have to do. You need strategies, not for overcoming writer’s block because the issue isn’t that you can’t write. Rather you need some solutions for doing even more writing than what you’re already doing.

In the next section, you’ll learn five strategies for doing just that.

Photo from Glen Carstens-Peters on Unsplash. Edited by the author.

What are 5 strategies to help you write more in your online degree program?

Writing will help you organize your ideas before expressing them.

You also have the time to understand what you’re learning before deciding whether to write a complete paper on the topic. During that time, you might take notes, ask follow-up questions, and find ways to prompt yourself to start writing.

So writing can help you understand.

And writing can help you stay mentally healthy.

So, how do you start writing more?

1. Ask more questions to deepen discussion

In college, your initial conclusions are insufficient to provide a substantial response. Many assignment requirements will require students to think beyond an immediate answer.

But what if every student delivers a response based on immediate assumptions?

If you’ve ever logged into an online classroom, you may have noticed similarities between the answers posted in the discussion board. But with most courses, there is no right or wrong answer. The instructor merely wants to see you come up with your own ideas and back them up.

That’s why asking additional questions as you prepare a writing assignment can benefit everyone in the class.

In a literature course, you can add a way of looking at an author’s work that no other student imagined. In a mathematics course, you would have the chance to show the class how you arrived at the correct answer using a different method, which you revealed in your work.

Photo from Neel on Unsplash. Edited by the author.

2. Revisit your old writing with a critical eye

If writer’s block exists, it would be one of the main reasons students struggle to generate new writing ideas.

Suppose you have the chance to revisit earlier assignments, previous papers you’ve submitted, or even a letter you wrote to a friend. In that case, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, much like you did in the online discussion boards or general chat area.

Here are some questions you might ask when revisiting your old writing:

· Why did I write this?

· How has my topic, argument, or thesis evolved?

· What is/would my audience saying/say about what I’ve written?

· What can I learn about myself and the world from what I’ve written?

· What else can I write to explore the topic further?

· How can I do a better job of showing versus telling?

· What mistakes have I made in my writing?

As a student going back to school for the first time in years, you might be worried that your mind won’t be sharp enough.

But worry not.

Teach yourself to never forget about your writing. While letting go of a project is an essential part of growing as a student, you may find enjoyment in looking back at your older submissions with attention to detail.

Photo from Jess Bailey on Unsplash. Edited by the author.

3. Create your own writing prompts/exercises

Creating writing prompts are exercises that would benefit you if you’re participating in a Creative Writing or English-related degree program.

But writing about your feelings can help your mental health, which would be beneficial for any student.

First, begin with these questions:

· How would the world look?

· What’s a conflict I’d like to see resolved?

· On what topics or interests should I focus?

Answer these questions first because those answers serve as the setting, conflict, and research needed to create a short fiction piece.

Here’s an example you might come up with using the questions listed below:

When student loan bills leave five families on the streets, a grocery store clerk must stop a vigilante stealing the identities of unsuspecting locals.

Now, students who could benefit most from writing more are those battling issues related to self-doubt and poor time management. The reason being is that writing itself is an exercise. By turning writing into a routine, students build discipline, confidence, and good study habits.

But how do you get there?

The trick is creating writing prompts yourself in addition to checking out those you see in websites, magazines, and books. The added benefit is that you’re building a story based on themes you find intriguing and meaningful.

4. Write about everything you experience

Students getting back into the classroom later in life should develop the habit of writing about their experiences.

You can journal, update your social media accounts, or post on a blog. But take time to reflect, analyze, and further explore your experiences. These activities add meaning to your life while also preparing you for the academic work required to succeed.

Even if all you’re doing other than studying is watching TV. You’d still notice a difference between lounging on the couch and binge-watching and sitting at a desk and taking notes.

According to two cognitive psychological scientists, in addition to recalling information without supporting materials, students should describe ideas with details by drawing connections with the content. Drawing these connections would also help you, the student, continue to engage in learning strategies before being scheduled for classes.

The challenge for many students is remaining passionate enough about learning that they continuously immerse themselves in knowledge.

In the past, you could graduate high school and go a long time without ever having to read a book, learn a new skill, or advance your education.

However, today is different. Employers want a variety of soft skills, as well as knowledge and insight gained from higher education.

So as a returning student, you’ll benefit from getting into the habit of learning all the time. By developing the habit of writing about your experiences, you’ll always have an idea on which to write.

Photo from Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash. Edited by the author.

5. Overcome self-limiting beliefs to start writing more

You can set high expectations and strive for success without beating yourself up. The trick is to adjust your thinking, which takes time and practice and cannot be done overnight.

Sadly, you might suffer thoughts like, I can’t write. Or, there’s no point in writing more. These thoughts can trick you into believing writing is a depressing, tedious activity, and writing less is a more inviting idea.

Yes, you could spend years battling with negative self-talk, but one day, with time, you’ll be able to rephrase the negative statements you say about yourself.

Not: I’m not good enough at writing so I probably won’t succeed.

But: I’ll get better over time as long as I keep practicing.

See the difference?

If you’re returning to college after a long break, you may be blindsided by the sheer number of writing assignments you may be required to complete.

From 8–10-page research papers to 500-word minimum discussion posts, the coursework in an online degree program is as challenging, if not more, than that seen in your traditional brick-and-mortar university.

That’s why challenging your self-limiting beliefs will help you embrace the idea of writing more.

Your online degree program doesn’t need self-doubt

Self-doubt won’t serve you well in college.

But is there such a thing as fighting too hard for good self-esteem?

Just think. Issues like perfectionism and being a workaholic can turn into full-blown self-destructive behaviors after a while. But if you’re someone who’s never satisfied with your progress or continuously comparing yourself to others, you’re making yourself miserable.

Many older students returning to college may have doubts, and that’s understandable.

Even as an online student, you may come across a student’s work and make assumptions that they’re far more intelligent, attractive, confident, and so on.

But research shows that high self-esteem doesn’t necessarily mean better academic performance. Not only that, striving for high self-esteem may be counterproductive. The research also showed that narcissism was seen as unattractive in the long run.

So you don’t need to doubt yourself if another student is further along. Instead, trust that you’ll adhere to the pace that’s best for you.

Writing more can be fun when you make the process easier on yourself. If you want writing to be fun, you’ll have to learn how to keep asking questions so you can further explore topics and generate better ideas.

Writing more also means overcoming your self-limitations and engaging in positive self-talk.

When you’re writing more, you might not even notice until you see the improvement in your grade. But when you’re a college student, better grades may be all you really want.

If you liked this post, read How Does Self-Destructive Behavior Harm Academic Performance?

Kevin Brown writes about self-improvement and mental health.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store