Repetition in writing can be useful, poignant, or poetic, but sometimes repeating something too many times can bore readers or make it seem like you ran out of things to write about. Here is an example of a good use of repetition:
Hear the sledges with the bells—
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells—
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
– The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe has repeated words like “tinkle” and “bells” to create a rhythm in the poem that is supposed to remind the reader of the sound of bells. He also managed to work in the word “tintinabulation,” which puts him in a class of his own among poets.
Chances are, if your instructor told you that your writing was repetitive, it was because you said the same thing in multiple places. This often happens because two or more sentences or paragraphs are closely related, but have been separated somehow. In this case, the best strategy is usually to go back and outline the section (or sections) and make sure that the main points are clear and that topics aren’t split unnecessarily.
In some cases, repetitive writing happens in the conclusion of a persuasive essay when writers simply paraphrase their opening paragraph and thesis statement. Instead, use the conclusion as an opportunity to pull together the major points of your essay and show how they work together to support your thesis and how people would benefit if they agree with you.