How to Write an Essay When You Really Don't Want to
College Life | 

How to Write an Essay When You Really Don't Want to

Pro tip: FlockU's study playlist.

Writing essays is the worst. This is coming from an English major. College essays come in all shapes and sizes, from 500 word "responses" (I still don't understand what/who I'm responding to?!) to full blown 8 billion page research papers that make you question what you're doing with your life. They can be killer, but you gotta do 'em! Here's some tips for when you're just not about it.

Go to the library.
Did you know your campus library is there (sometimes 24/7) just for the purpose of getting crap done? Contrary to popular belief that it's just a quiet(ish) place to hold conversations, it can actually be a great resource.

Pack yourself some study essentials (coffee, headphones, more coffee...) and camp out in the quiet section for the afternoon/evening/week. Getting there is half the battle.

You are not going to get crap done if you can't get off Instagram. Put your phone down. If turning it off is too intimidating, just put it on do not disturb. The same goes for your laptop (unless you need it for typing, of course).

You're supposed to be writing that essay, not stalking your ex on Facebook, get your life together! There are tons of apps and extensions available for keeping you away from time consuming websites. Programs such as Freedom and Cold Turkey prohibit you from viewing distracting pages during your precious work time!

Play super intense essay-writing music.
Did you know there are actual playlists designed just to put you in the writing mood? Do you need to buckle down and write a huge paper? Try FlockU's instrumentals playlist designed for concentrated studying.

Write or die.
If all else fails, this Internet tool will scare you into finishing your paper. Write or die uses a timer to force you to write as quickly as possible. If you stop writing, there will be consequences! This is great for first drafts because it encourages you to get all the words on paper without worrying about editing. Write now, edit later! Your word count will thank you!

Happy writing!

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7 Apps That Will Improve Your Writing

Basically, how not to make your writing suck

Let's face it - writing is hard as hell for a lot of people. Even if you are a decent writer and don't tremble with fear at the thought of a research paper, you're still going to mess up sometimes. As a writer myself, I definitely have had my fair share of writer's block and cliches. But I have found some amazing apps to help improve my writing and they can help improve yours, too.

Manage your writing drafts more efficiently with this app. It has many user-friendly features. Collaborate with others without letting them overwrite your master copies. Approve or reject changes they make to documents. Compare drafts of previous work at the same time and see your progress. Use the built-in analytics software to generate reports about reader activity. Getting feedback on your writing from a staff of reviewers is also possible with Draft.

Writer's block is no match for this app. ILYS helps users avoid the urge to over-edit. The goal is to write first and edit later. In addition to using a timer, you are only allowed to type and see one character at a time before the clock stops. Then you view what you have written and make changes. This helps ease the stress that often hits writers before beginning a writing assignment. Just go with the flow, and write whatever comes to your mind. This app can help you churn out more words than usual, too.

Plotbot is a good app specifically for those who want to write movie scripts or things of that nature. You can create and work on private screenplays by yourself, or invite others to get involved. If you are open to a wider collaborative team, share your screenplays publicly, and build a lot more connections. Leave all your formatting worries behind with this app - it takes care of everything. Now you can focus more on telling awesome stories with friends to help you along the way.

Cliche Finder
As tempting as it is to use cliches in your writing, they only sound fluffy, not innovative. No one likes stale writing. Get rid of overused phrases with Cliche Finder. The platform is simple to use. Just add your writing to the text box and click "Find Cliches." All cliches will be bolded for easy identification and removal.

Hemingway App
This beloved app is arguably one of the best online editors out there. Its main purpose is to make your writing more readable. It checks for the complexity of your words and sentences. Adverbs and passive voice are also identified. Questionable areas of writing are highlighted and color-coded to fit their assigned categories. You can write and edit within the Hemingway App. A reading grade level will be given to you once you switch over to the editing process.

Word Counter
The previous app does count words, but the Word Counter app goes further. It counts words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, syllables, and more. Make your writing SEO-friendly by using the built-in keyword density checker. Its talk-to-type feature allows you to type words as you say them into a microphone. Edit your work by using the proofreader feature to hear your writing read out loud.

When it comes to writing college papers, you know how much hassle citations can be. Save yourself time and effort with BibMe, an automatic bibliography maker. It auto-fills essential elements for complete citations. You can cite sources in APA, MLA, Chicago format, and more. This app even allows users to check for plagiarism, scanning millions of sites and papers online.

You don't have to settle for mediocre writing with these apps. Do yourself a favor and start downloading.

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College Life | 

How to Stop Writing like You're in High School

No one cares if you have a cover page.

It's time to unlearn many of those high school writing habits. They just don't exist anymore in college.

In high school, you might have learned to start every paragraph with the main point and end every paragraph re-stating the main point. That's not the case in college. You have much more freedom to write in the way that serves your ideas and argument.

College professors want you to think critically and write persuasively. Here's a cheat sheet to help you shift into college writing gear.

Source: K.C Uthus, FlockU

Word to your flocker.

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College Life | 

I'm a Student Tutor: Here Are The Five Most Common Writing Mistakes I See

Do some damage control before you send it off to your prof.

I'm a T.A. for a freshman writing seminar this term; and I work in the writing tutoring center on my campus, so I've seen all kinds of papers--from amazing to really, really bad. Here are the most common mistakes that I've seen in college papers. So, read this and don't make the same ones.

Mistake: Your argument is unclear. You should be able to clearly identify your thesis in the introductory paragraph. If someone's having trouble identifying it, then you probably 1) spent your introduction summarizing material without stating an argument, or 2) stated so many arguments/ideas that your reader doesn't know which one is your main point.

Fix: The best way to deal with your thesis is to not overthink it. If a friend asked you what you were writing your paper about, how would you answer? Your argument should be the same: concise, interesting, and arguable.

Mistake: Getting distracted from the task at hand. If your paper is about how the symbolism in a novel gives the story a specific tone, then the author's historical background is totally irrelevant. So just don't include it. Seriously.

Fix: Make a reverse outline to check if you're staying on topic. Try to summarize each of your body paragraphs in one sentence. Really think about it. Don't summarize what you intended to say; summarize what's actually on the paper. Then, make sure that ALL of your summaries directly support your thesis.

Mistake: Not analyzing your quotes. If you put a long quote in your paper, don't assume that it will speak for itself. The quote is supposed to support YOU, not the other way around.

Fix: The 1:3 rule. For every one line of quote, you should have three lines of analysis. If you can't write enough about the quote, then you're probably better off nixing it or paraphrasing it in your own words.

Mistake: Bringing up new ideas in the conclusion. The paper has ended, but you're still going. Maybe you've made an argument about Moby Dick, but you think it's important that your ideas hold some relevance in real life. You suddenly start trying to prove that Moby Dick has changed modern day fishing culture. You haven't mentioned anything about this until now, so it's irrelevant.

Fix: This mistake happens so often because the conclusion is supposed to be the big takeaway or "so what?" of the paper. Still, make sure that when you restate your argument in a broader way, you're not adding any drastically new information.

Mistake: Flowery language. Literally no one wants to read this ish. The only person who can pull off page-long sentences is Faulkner, and even then, some people hate him because of it. Being concise will ALWAYS reign supreme over wordiness.

Fix: Cut the bullshit. Close the thesaurus. Never say "hence" or "thus" again.

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College Life | 

Speak As You Write

Talking to yourself isn't always a bad thing.

If you're struggling with what to write and how to write it, try saying your ideas aloud as you type them. Yes, it might seem odd. We don't advise sitting in a crowded library when you do this. But talking as you write can help you produce stronger papers--not to mention take some pain out of the process. Here's why:

Talking gets ideas out of your head. Talking about your ideas is usually way easier than writing about them. Words just flow when you're talking. Write those words down as they come out of your mouth. See? You've just put something on the screen to evaluate and edit as needed.

It helps you put words in the right order. One of the hardest parts of writing is sorting out the mess of words swirling in your brain. Speaking those words can help you put them in the right order and avoid convoluted sentences. In fact, a 2015 paper by Johns Hopkins University researchers found "writing and talking are now such independent systems in the brain that someone who can't write a grammatically correct sentence may be able to say it aloud flawlessly."

It helps you establish tone. Talking lets you hear how words sound together. That sound is called tone. Your tone could be formal, informal, humorous, snarky, etc. The right tone depends on the assignment. If you're writing a research paper, you probably should use a formal tone. If you're writing a fun opinion piece, you can probably be casual.

You can explore your thought process. Sometimes it helps to just talk to yourself about the piece. Ask yourself: What am I trying to say? What's my point? You might be able to better understand what you want to communicate.

So talk it out. You might find you can write with much more clarity and confidence.

Word to your flocker.

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College Life | 

5 Reasons to Join Your Campus Newspaper

Learning to take edits is half the battle.

In case you forgot, the entire point of college is to get a job. You need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience and that, my friends, is some fucked up shiz.

The way to get experience without having any is to intern, work for free, and hustle.

Joining your campus newspaper can be a great way to find out what professional writing is all about--and see if it is what you're into. Join the newspaper because:

1.It's an opportunity to exercise your writing abilities. Your newspaper gives you an opportunity to build skills around news writing, feature writing, reporting, and interviewing. The more you write--and the more varied types of writing you do--the stronger your overall abilities become.

2.It lets you build your writing portfolio. If you apply to nearly any job with a writing component, the hiring manager will ask for writing samples. Articles you wrote for your college paper are some of the most credible samples you can provide because they're published. Class essays are OK too, but published pieces carry much more weight.

3.It gives you relevant experience for entering journalism, PR, or communications. If you're looking to break into journalism or a related field, being a writer for your school's newspaper is a natural way to gain relevant experience you can put on your resume and share during interviews. If you work your way up to an editor position? Even better.

4.Interviewing people helps you make valuable connections. Consider the people you'll need to interview to report your stories: professors, guest speakers, fellow students, business owners around campus. That's a chance to network. There's no telling where those relationships will go-and relationships will nearly always be the crux of career success.

5.It lets you strengthen your teaming and organizational skills. Take a look at your newspaper's masthead. Each person plays a role in driving a well-oiled editorial machine. You'll gain a whole new appreciation for what it means to be organized and hit deadlines. If you drop the ball, you're screwing up a lot of other people's work, just like in a real life job.

Bonus: you learn to be critiqued. In the real world, your boss is going to tell you clearly why and how you have fucked up, getting used to it can make that transition just a little less painless.

Word to your flocker.