How to Stop Going on Autopilot

“I’ll bet a fiddle of gold
Against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

You had a five-page assignment due and managed to squeeze it in in a solitary day. You feel proud that you’re so efficient and are one click away from turning it in to your professor or employer. You feel as confident as Johnny taking on the devil on the fiddle. You reluctantly give your work a quick skim and even more reluctantly come to the realization that writing has to be original to be impressive, not just speedy.

The paper is full of cliches and fillers and doesn’t even flow smoothly. Looks like you went on autopilot and just thought you were having a creative streak. It’s a great realization right before a deadline.

Satisfying the Word Count VS Writing

There are no less than five paragraphs in your paper that all say the same thing. When a paragraph ends, the small point should be over. If the reader arrives at the same conclusion multiple times, it’s dull and a dead giveaway that the author does not care about the material.

Genuine Interest

This is the key factor in writing well. You have to engross yourself in the writing. Always make sure you are putting effort to feel something, anything about the topic before you begin. If your interest is being shy and you are tempted to expand contractions to meet your word count, there are a couple go-tos to help make yourself interested.

Compare Statistics

Statistics is a magical world. There’s nothing that sparks interest quite like inferring conclusions from numbers. It is difficult to explain, but you know when an article is backed up by real statistics that that article just came to life.


Relate Personally

Remember something related to the material that personally happened to you so that you can evoke real emotions to use for solid writing. This goes back to the days when you thought your third grade teacher was very interested in your personal life but really just wanted to prompt you to write well.

Add further ideas in the comments!


Advice vs Advise

This is something I hope by the age of 18 most people have down. Don’t worry if you don’t though. I’m here to help. Also, I still have to Google if the word “with” is capitalized in a title quite frequently, so don’t feel bad.

Someone can repeat over and over to you, “Advise is something you do, and advice is something you give.” You’re still going to get it all mixed up. That’s a nearly useless statement, because it’s easy to exchange the two. You already know one is a verb and one is noun. It’s like trying to teach a toddler the alphabet by saying, “‘A’ is the first letter, ‘b’ is the second letter…” and so on and so forth.

This method may, however, work with a parrot.


You have to come up with something addressing the differences in the words or research them so much that it sticks. You can also, as in the case of the alphabet, come up with a song, but that one simple letter letter difference in “advice” and “advise” shouldn’t take that much effort.

Something interesting with these two words is that usually, native English speakers can use them appropriately when they are speaking. It’s the fact that both the “s” and the “c” can produce the same sound that confuses most people when writing.

Rather than memorizing something to silly to help (although you can always do that), just remember that a “c” can never make a “z” sound. Say “-ise” words aloud, like “rise”, “wise”, “miser”, “demise” and “poise”, and then “-ice” words, like “dice”, “mice”, “thrice”, “nice” and “rice”. Say the word you are about to write aloud, and ask yourself what sound those letter combos make in other words. You’ll never go wrong…until you find some crazy English words that don’t follow this rule, that is.

If you were advised to follow advice, you could write about it accurately now.

A Day in the Life of ‘The Wrong Fit’

You wake up early and get some coffee before opening up your laptop. You read your company’s emails and sigh importantly. You think to yourself, Its a great day too get there act together. (These things can physically hurt me to write. But just bare with me.)

Moving on, you read today’s assignment. It’s too easy. You just need to write about texting and driving. You crack your finger joints and begin.

Lots of people text and drive these days.

A word comes to your mind. Two words come to mind, in fact. They are “research” and “statistics”. You can’t remember how the first one is relevant, and isn’t statistics that math class you failed in college?

Texting and driving is bad, you continue. Texting and driving can get you into an accident. Texting and driving isn’t the only option on the road. Driving can be done without texting. Texting and driving–don’t do it.


Oh yeah, now you’ve got those keywords in. This assignment is coming along beautifully.

Two months down the road, your boss reviews your work and tells you that you are probably not the right fit. Surprise.

Based on this article by Chris Goddard on SERPs. It’s from an employer’s point of view.