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Get a good writing technique

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    Getting started

    Starting a written assignment can be challenging. You have many pages ahead of you, and you may be feeling that you have been looking at a blinking cursor for too long. Here are some tips for getting started.

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    CONTENT OR STRUCTURE – HOW DO YOU START?

    It is, of course individual how you work best and you may already have a method, that works well for you. However, if you find it difficult to get started, try letting your interests control your writing. Many students find it more effective to begin by writing content, and then structure the writing as they go along. Just write what you can, when you can. Don’t stop yourself, and don’t worry if what you write does not feel essential to the main direction you want it to go. All writing is useful writing - you learn from it all, and one thought will feed the next.

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    Keep your pace

    Once you’ve got started, see if you can write all the time. Even though you occasionally have to go back to reading, make an effort to write something every day. While you are reading, you may suddenly find that you are taking particularly many notes. Let your words flow uninhibited into sentences and sections. Again, you should not let yourself be stopped by anything, but write whatever comes to you, even if it means you jump back and forth in the assignment.

    If you are having a hard time staying focused, do the exercise “Kickstart your writing”.
    The exercise can help jumpstart your writing process and make space for new and unexpected thoughts and ideas.

    Kickstart your writing

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    Your language - Academic or plain?

    It is a common misunderstanding that the university requires you to write particularly formal and inaccessibly. Of course, your assignment has to follow accepted conventions of spelling and punctuation, but keep in mind that it is primarily judged on its academic contents. Therefore, be yourself in how you write, naturally and unpretentiously.

    Think of your written assignments as exercises -  for each assignment you complete, you become better at writing academically, and at expressing yourself clearly and accessible.

    If you know you have certain challenges with your writing, make sure to pay special attention to your proofreading. You can also ask a friend for help, as it can often be hard to spot your own mistakes.

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    Revise and select material

    This job is really important, so make sure that you assign ample time for it. It might even be a good idea to take a couple days off before, so you can distance yourself a bit from the writing process. When you start revising, ask yourself if the structure and the arguments in your assignment are clear, logical and adequate. Approach it critically - do you have redundancies that you can leave out? Or maybe you have something you need to add, if you lack documentation, explanations, or clarifications.

    Accept that it is not necessarily everything you have written that will make the cut. There will most likely be content that you end up not using. Do not think of it as waste - it has probably paved the way for a lot of the material you have chosen to include in your assignment, and it can be valuable bonus knowledge to draw upon in an oral examination, or in future assignments. 

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    Thoughts on group writing

    Writing with others, for instance on a larger assignment such as a project or a thesis, calls for good cooperation and task management from all members of the group. Most groups find it useful to make partial assignments, to which each group member will write individually. It is therefore important that you discuss your different approaches to the writing process and expectations in advance. Some are strong on details and like to finish texts to perfection, while others are better at generating ideas and outlines.

    Be clear and outspoken with your teammates about your strengths and ambitions. This will give you a greater understanding of each other, and enable you to benefit from your different strengths and interests.

    Read more about group work at AAU