Some people love complicated math, others love conducting science experiments. Then there are those people that are gifted with beautifully flowing writing.
If you’re not one of those people that can sit and produce well-written papers, blog posts, or even memos, you might wish you knew the secret of how to become a better writer.
The truth of the matter is that there is no perfect way to make your words flow like Hemingway’s. However, there are a few steps you can take that can make your writing convey the points you need while sounding professional and intelligent.
We’re going to take a look at just how you can produce quality work without having anxiety over who your audience may be. Keep reading for more information!
Read, Read, Read!
One of the best ways to learn how to write well is by reading other people’s work. We’re not talking about surfing the internet for the latest gossip or thumbing through the tabloids.
Read books by various authors and articles on a number of topics to get an idea of flow, punctuation, and even vocabulary you may not have thought to use.
If you read something you don’t like, try to figure out why you didn’t enjoy it so you can avoid the same mistake.
Aside from the fact that reading will help you become a better writer, it is good for the mind. You will learn tidbits of information that may become useful at a later date, and overall become a more interesting person.
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Practice Will Make Almost Perfect
Unless you’re really great at writing, you probably don’t want to sit down to practice the task every day. Unfortunately, this is the best way to get better at putting words on a page.
Set a goal every day–it could be ten words or one sentence–and write or type it.
Now, don’t think that simply writing those few words will make you the next Nobel Laureate. As you get better at meeting your simple goal, add to it. Write a paragraph instead of random words or one sentence, or compose a quick ‘how-to’ on a topic you know well.
If writing a random paragraph or sentence isn’t appealing, try keeping a journal. Set aside a certain amount of time every day to simply write your thoughts, problems, wishes, or dreams. Remember that no one is reading it–the idea is to simply become comfortable writing.
Perfect Your Grammar
Believe it or not, many professional writers do not have perfect grammar and do not understand the English language as well as you’d think. So how do they make it appear that they do?
Most writers use online editors, spellcheckers, grammar tools and other sites designed for the creative process. There are many available websites out there that not only will tell you if a word is misspelled or misused but also if the tense is incorrect or the verbiage is wrong.
Especially if English is not your first language, you should take advantage of these tools that are available–often at no charge.
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Outline Your Work
Although you should never wait until the last minute to begin a writing project, sometimes it is unavoidable. When this happens, one of the best ways to get the job completed quickly is to outline.
You should already know your topic, but that doesn’t mean your piece needs a title yet. Instead of focusing on a title, introduction, or conclusion, jump straight into outlining the body of the work.
This will usually include your subheaders and then bullet points underneath each one, describing the who, what, or why. Doing this will allow you to keep on track as you hurry to produce quality work and keep your research focused on the needed material.
Take a Class
If you’ve been out of school for a number of years and haven’t practiced your writing since, opting for an evening class might not be a bad idea. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education classes that are designed for adults in the working world.
Some of these lectures may be free of charge, while others cost a minimal fee and will span several months. In many of these classes, the instructor will go over basics like spelling and grammar, as well as the differences of words like, ‘they’re, there, and their.’
At certain institutions, you may find that writing classes are offered based on your level of writing or your industry. Because there are so many styles of writing, it is wise to consult the instructor beforehand to be sure you are in the best class for your style.
Edit to Become a Better Writer
Most writers aren’t great editors and most editors aren’t great writers–especially when it comes to their own work.
After you’ve outlined your work and written your first draft, step away from the piece for a few hours or days. Allow yourself time to get back to life and stop thinking about the project at hand.
Once you’ve allowed yourself that break, sit back down and tear your writing apart. Better yet, allow another person or writer to have a peek at it.
Editing is usually a writer’s least favorite part of the creative process, but it is easily the most important. Sometimes you’ll find that your writing is torn to pieces and you may feel that it’s best to start from scratch.
Keep in mind that if you start from scratch, you’ll have to perform the editing process all over again!
This can be a heartbreaking process if you have poured your heart into what you’ve written. However, for a work-related piece, editing will ensure that there are no minor mistakes that can make you into a laughing stock at work.
Keep it Simple
Just because a big word sounds smart or more authoritative, it doesn’t mean that it should be used. When a piece of writing is incredibly long or uses unnecessarily large words, readers tend to get bored.
A bored audience means that they will stop reading before they get to the ‘good stuff’ and miss out on all of your hard work. Well-written content is crucial!
Unless you are writing a novel or book of some sort, remember that people tend to have very short attention spans. This means keeping words small, paragraphs short, and using bullet points when possible.
Not every topic will appeal to every reader, but it’s important to ensure that your material can be read (and hopefully appreciated) by a wide audience.
Progress, Not Perfection
Although you may want to produce the most perfect piece of writing there ever was, keep in mind that very few writers have ever done so.
This means that instead of focusing on perfection, you should look at content and glaringly obvious grammar or spelling mistakes.
Read your work–does it make sense? Are the ideas presented in a manner that flow and that other readers can understand? If the answers to these questions are yes, and there aren’t any major errors, pat yourself on the back.
This writing may not be perfect, but it is a progression from the blank page you started with!
Find a Writing Partner
If you find it difficult to sit down each day and journal or write a few words, consider finding a writing partner. Ask around at your office or look up writing forums.
Chances are, you have someone in your life currently looking for a writing partner as well–it might even be your best friend!
It can be difficult to learn to share your work with others, but having a writing partner will allow you to hear an honest opinion and gain some insight about your work.
With a writing partner, you will be able to read their work too, which can help you brush up on your editing skills. Additionally, there is some accountability which will force you to write on a day-to-day basis.
Say What You Mean
If you are writing an opinion piece or for your own blog, don’t dance around the topic. Say what you mean and stand behind it. Have supporting arguments for why you believe the way you do.
Unless you are writing a mystery novel, don’t be vague. Tell the reader exactly what you think, without making them guess what you’re attempting to say.
When you’re fortunate enough to write a piece that allows you to use your own voice, USE IT! Don’t try to upset your readers, but say what you think or how you feel about the particular subject.
Improving Writing Skills
To become a better writer, you don’t necessarily have to do everything on this list at once. In fact, if you simply find one or two things to apply to your daily writing, you will see a marked improvement to your skills.
The key to improving your writing skills is based on your desire to do so. If your goal is to become a better writer and you work toward it, your writing WILL get better.
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