Textual Healing

By Jaris Cole

(English Literature, English Builder, ESOL, IELTS, TOEFL, TOK Tutor at The Edge Learning Center)

Generally, writing can be a difficult process especially when you thoroughly dislike it. What’s more, writing is something you need to be able to adequately do as you pursue higher education. Unfortunately, the writing process is one that can be intimidating; the blank page has haunted writers of every level since the days of quill pens.

When faced with the blank page, the average writer is unsure about where to start; this ultimately leads to feeling overmatched. Feeling discouraged. Feeling like you’ll never complete your written task. Well…when you get that feeling, all you need is textual healing! Textual healing…it makes you feel so fine! Textual healing…is something good for you!

But what is textual healing exactly? Basically, it’s a phrase that refers to tips you can use when you’re tripped up by the writing process. These tips apply to every stage of the writing process whether it be the beginning or end. Use them to relieve that feeling and give yourself the boost you need to confidently complete your writing task!   

Textual Healing Tips

Know Your Audience

Regardless of the writing task, knowing your audience is vital. This is because you need to adjust your writing to ensure your audience understands it. Also, knowing your audience allows you to determine the kind of “voice” to use. For example, if you’re composing an essay for your college application, the voice you’ll use will be noticeably different from the voice you’d use in an analysis essay. Although both writing tasks require you to use formal tones, they both are meant for different audiences.

Use Prewriting Strategies

There are numerous prewriting strategies that’ll help generate content for your writing task. Making an outline is one of the most common prewriting strategies but it’s not the only strategy at your disposal. Brainstorming, clustering, freewriting, looping, and asking journalist questions are all useful prewriting strategies.

Write Concisely

Writing concisely goes hand-in-hand with knowing your audience. Furthermore, writing concisely allows you to capture and retain the audience’s interest. Additionally, writing concisely improves clarity allowing you to get straight to the point, and enabling the audience to comprehend that point. You can write concisely by utilizing specific words instead of vague or abstract ones. Avoid the overuse of expletives[1] at the beginning of sentences and noun forms of verbs[2] also enables you to write concisely. Finally, you can write concisely by eliminating unnecessary words[3] and replacing multiple negatives with affirmatives.[4]

Edit and Proofread

It can be difficult to find mistakes in your own writing. Luckily, you can become adept editing and proofreading by using some simple techniques. First and foremost, before you start to edit and proofread, you should take a break from your writing. This allows you to distance yourself from your work in order to thoroughly edit and proofread. When returning to your work, you’re returning with the eyes of the reader instead of the writer. In addition to using your eyes differently, listen to your writing by reading it aloud. Doing so, allows you to hear any awkwardness in your writing.

Editing and proofreading also include the formatting of your writing. Ensure your writing follows the prescribed guidelines (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) used by your school or institution. Once you’ve edited your formatting, focus on the punctuation. In particular, give special attention to quotation marks, commas and semi-colons, spelling, and grammar. Punctuation carelessness tends to undercut your credibility and casts doubt on the quality of your work.

Editing and proofreading are often believed to be the same process. Proofreading is what you do after you edit; it’s reading for errors and correcting them. Similar to editing, you should take a break from your writing before proofreading it. Once you’ve taken a break, read your writing out loud, slowly, and carefully. Read and listen for places where you pause, stumble, or re-read since they may represent problem areas. If something sounds “off,” ask yourself the following questions:

• Are your sentences way too long or too short?

• Are you using consistent verb tenses?

• Do the subjects and the verbs agree?

• Is your pronoun use clear?

• Are you using an appropriate voice?

• Do you have any misspellings and homophones? This one is important since your spell check function won’t catch mistakes like “by” when you meant to use “buy.”

• Are your citations correct? Ensure your direct quotes or ideas that aren’t your own are appropriately cited.

Reading your writing sentence-by-sentence, from the end of your paper to the beginning is also useful. Finally, get an editing and proofreading buddy who can read your writing out loud so you can hear how it sounds.

These textual healing tips can be applied to every type of writing task. Practice them, use them, and master them. They’ll benefit you greatly by relieving the pressure that comes with writing and helping you find your voice.

Writing

[1] Expletives are phrases of the form it + be-verb or there + be-verb: “It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills.”

[2] Noun forms of verbs are known as nomilizations, which are nouns that are created from adjectives or verbs.

[3] Unnecessary words include excessive details and redundant and repetitive words.

[4] Affirmatives convey concise information that does not need to be interpreted.

Need help with your writing? Join our Edge Writing Course to learn strategic approaches to a range of essay formats and develop your ability to analyze and summarize information in an academic context!


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