Take Effective Writing during your freshman or sophomore year. This class prepares you for the many other courses you will take that require good writing skills.
Take advantage of The Learning Center's Writing Assistants for writing any paper, or meet up with a tutor for a specific course. These assistants have been hired to help you succeed. They are prepared to help you in the organization of papers, sentence and paragraph structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, documentation of research, and building your knowledge and confidence in writing.
Use books and resources on writing, many of which are available in the Reference book section of the Learning Center.
Listen carefully and take notes when the professor gives instructions for the paper you are to write. Pay attention to the style of writing he or she prefers (such as compare/contrast, opinion, researched facts) and the style of footnotes, if any, to include. If you are unsure, ask the professor. This is better than turning in a paper that is not written according to the instructions.
Do not put it off. Any writer has a difficult time "getting into" writing or organizing thoughts to prepare to write. Procrastination results in excessive stress and a poor quality paper.
Make a plan or schedule of the different steps involved in writing your paper, such as choosing a topic, completing your outline, etc. By planning, the task will not be as overwhelming.
In brainstorming for ideas, speak out loud or write out your stream of thoughts while thinking about ideas. This helps bring clarity to your mind and thoughts become more concrete. In speaking out loud, your ideas will often become focused sooner, and you can go back through your written thoughts and choose specific ideas to pursue.
Know your audience and purpose. Know what you want to accomplish with what you write, what you want the reader to think, feel, change, etc.
Create an outline. Although it is an extra step in the process, outlining saves time in the long run by helping you plan the organization of the paper and cut out any unnecessary information.
Allow yourself freedom in writing your first draft. Avoid trying to fix things every minute. After it is done, wait about a day, then edit and revise your paper.
To catch mistakes, unnecessary material and/or poor writing, read the paper out loud to yourself. You'll catch things you never would have noticed. Another good idea is to have a friend (or Writing Assistant) help you revise it. Others often notice problems you have missed.
Revise your paper. In the revision process, begin by looking at overall structure, then get more and more specific, until you are examining each phrase or sentence carefully, checking for appropriateness, spelling and grammar.