This Is the Easiest Way to Become a Better Writer, Starting Today

Kelly Dawson
3 min readMay 1, 2023
Looking up at a trio of tall palm trees, which have lights strung around the trunks.
Photo by Kelly Dawson

Years ago, when I was a college journalism student, I entered a classroom and became instantly terrified.

“Pop quiz, everyone,” my professor boomed to a handful of bright-eyed peers. “Take out a piece of paper, rip one out of a notebook if you need to, and here we go.”

He asked us 10 questions before even getting our names. All of the answers, he said, could be found if we had read the newspaper that day. Did we read it? I know I hadn’t. I scribbled down answers as fast as I could, not daring to leave a single question blank, and turned my paper in with the rest of the class. A few minutes later, he laughed looking at my submission.

“Whose paper is this?” he asked. I said it was mine. “Do you know how to spell ‘Schwarzenegger?’” I didn’t. He knew I didn’t. And now the class did, too.

“I…don’t,” I said, shyly.

“That has to be the worst attempt I’ve ever seen.”

I could’ve walked out of the room right then and there, leaving my plan — my only plan — of becoming a writer behind. But like Rick says in Casablanca, this professor’s favorite movie, it ended up becoming the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

He cared deeply about his students’ success, and wanted all of us to be the type…



Kelly Dawson

i write, i edit, then i write again. | | instagram: @kellydawsonwrites