Do you dream of being a successful student and academic writer?

You’re probably reading this because you want to be a student who writes A+ essays and papers or something that shows you’re an expert on what you study.  Well, the first part of becoming a great academic writer in school is wanting to become one.   But the rest of how you advance your academic writing is through the actions you take every day.

And part of it is learning skills and elements of good academic writing.  These are the things that you can study and practice in class or with an academic writing tutor or teacher.

But another crucial piece is creating a mindset for success and doing things to improve your academic writing every day.   And this part is up to you and how you plan and work toward your academic writing goals.

Here are 10 tips that will help accomplish this, and become a person who writes essays, papers and research projects people are excited to read.

10 Tips to Help You Become a Great Academic Writer

Tip 1: Set measurable writing goals.

Your writing goals could be a specific word count, sections of the writing project, (like the introduction, body, conclusion, etc.) or phase in the writing process. Don’t stop writing for the day until you’ve reached your goal.   I suggest taking a big goal like finishing a research paper and breaking it up into smaller goals.  Each small goal leads up to achieving your big goal.

Tip 2: Visualize writing a great paper.

How you will feel and what will your writing project look like when you finish it. Will you feel excited? Will you see an A+ on your essay, paper or research project? Create a positive vision.  Then close your eyes and focus on your vision.  Do this every day before you start writing, and every night before you go to bed.

Tip 3: Plan what you will write each day.

When you plan your content ahead of time it will make your writing time more efficient. You could make a few notes, or write a detailed list or outline. Choose a method that will guide you in your writing.  I like to write some bullet points on what I’m going to cover in my writing.

Tip 4: Use a timer to help you focus.

Decide on an amount of time where you’ll only focus on the writing you need to do. Don’t stop working on your essay or paper until the timer ends.  This prevents you from being distracted by social media, text messages or anything else.  For an academic writing project, I set a timer for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break.  I write again for 50 minutes and then take a 30-minute break.

Try different amounts of writing time and breaks to see what works best for you.  One of the most well-known timing methods is called the Pomodoro Technique, by Francesco Cirillo.   To try this technique, set a timer for 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break.  Repeat this cycle 3 more times.  Then take a 15 to 20-minute break.  Keep doing this until you have finished your writing for the day.

Check out the post, “The Pomodoro Technique: Is it right for you?” to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique.

One nifty thing to do with using a timer for writing is a word sprint.  Word sprints are where you write non-stop until your time is up, and then see how many words you wrote during that time.  It’s fun to realize how much writing you can accomplish in a set amount of time!

A timer is a great tool for writing, researching, studying or any other academic or professional task you need to do.

Tip 5: Create a writing habit.

There are 3 parts of a habit: trigger, action, and reward. Create your own writing habit by finding something to trigger your writing.  Then write.  When you finish writing reward yourself.

My trigger for writing is opening my laptop to my MS Word document.  I leave the word document open every night, so it’s the first thing I see in the morning.   I see it and I immediately start to write.  Then I reward myself by reading a fun book.

Choose your own writing habit and do it daily, so that it becomes automatic.

Tip  6: Eliminate all distractions.

Silence your cell phone, turn off your email notifications, ignore social media, and tell anyone that lives with you not to interrupt you (unless it’s an emergency).  Find a place where you can focus and write.   You could choose a quiet place or a crowded noisy place, so long as no one else disturbs you.

Try different places, until you know the best one for you.  My favorite space is a library because I’m not alone, but everyone around me is quiet.

Tip 7: Write something every day.

It doesn’t matter what you choose because any type of writing will help you improve how you express yourself in words. Here are some ideas for daily writing: journal entries, blog posts, freewriting exercises, and summaries or responses to what you’re reading or learning in class.

When you write daily you build your vocabulary and develop your writing style.  You also increase critical thinking and writing skills.

Tip 8: Write hot and edit cold.

This expression means that you should write a draft without stopping to correct things or change things. A first draft is called a rough draft because it is messy, and it will need a lot of revision and editing.

When you finish the first draft, take a break.  I usually wait a day before I start revising and editing my academic writing.  When you revise and edit imagine it is someone else’s paper.  Cut, change and rewrite everything that doesn’t make sense.  Be cold and calculating and unafraid to make big changes to your writing.

Great academic papers are first drafts that were revised and edited a lot.

Tip 9: Get comments and feedback on your academic writing.

I recommend peer-revision groups, and or working with an academic writing tutor or teacher on revising an essay or paper.

If you are working in a peer-revision group ask others to say what they like about your paper, what’s unclear or confusing, and what questions they have about your writing.  Ask them to suggest ideas on how you can improve your paper. Listen to their ideas, and ask any questions you have about their comments.

If you work with a teacher or a tutor, that person can help you improve your essay or paper too.  But they will also help you become a better academic writer overall.

Tip 10: Read, read and read academic writing.

Select writing from your classes, the field you study and other topics that interest you.  Read journal articles, books, academic and professional blogs.

When you read a piece of writing look at the vocabulary, writing style and content.  What do you see that you like about it?  What do you see that you don’t like?

Try using some of the things you like about another author’s writing in your academic essays or papers.  We learn from reading other writers. It’s how you discover what works, and what doesn’t work in academic writing.


These tips set you up for success so that you’ll write powerful academic essays, papers and other projects for class.  Each tip helps you become a student who excels at writing.  Think about how you can make changes that will improve your academic writing.

Try some or all these tips and add them to your daily routine.  Commit to using them and see the change this makes in your writing.

What will you do to become a great academic writer?  Share your ideas below.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash