10 Suggestions for Improving Writing Skills
Whether you're taking a college English class, want to improve your skills for work or just want a new hobby, any kind of writing requires patience, practice and dedication. Incorporating writing into your daily routine, understanding its process and creating your own style through word choice, detail and subject matter are just a few ways improve your skills.
Stephen King has said that if you don't make time to read, you deprive yourself of valuable writing tools. Freelance writer Amandah Taylor Blackwell suggests starting with books you enjoy reading, but eventually expanding your horizons.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to make writing a familiar process. Syracuse University adult education professor Roger Hiemstra writes that journaling gives you practice reflecting on your ideas by writing about your experiences, values and beliefs.
Set Daily Freewriting Goals
Just as athletes prepare for games through practice, you can practice by writing each day. You can set a goal of a specific number of words or take time each day to write. Without thinking too much about it, write whatever comes to mind until you've met your quota.
Silence Negative Voices
Many people let past critics prevent them from writing. But author Anne Lamott, in her book "Bird by Bird," writes that when she feels haunted by past critics, she imagines them as mice and then traps them in a jar. Shutting out past critics can give you creative freedom in the present.
Writing prompts are a great way to start mining writing material. You might write about your first memory, a social issue you care about or a time something unfair happened to you. Be sure to save all your prompt responses; you never know when one might inspire a paper or story.
Choose Fun Topics
Choosing topics you're interested in can remedy your lack of enthusiasm for certain assignments. For example, if your assignment is an argumentative essay and you're interested in animal rights, you might choose to write about how states need stricter laws against animal abuse.
Show, Don't Tell
Because active, vivid language brings writing to life, using detail rather than summarizing ideas can improve your work's effectiveness. Illustrating the sensory details of a personal experience or using clear, specific examples in a research paper can bring clarity to your work.
Be Attentive to Language
With the growth of social networking and smartphones, it's become more common and convenient to use the abbreviations and slang of texting rather than complete sentences and correct grammar. To improve your writing, try constructing abbreviation-free sentences, paying attention to how you structure your messages.
Cut Unnecessary Words
Long, wordy sentences can easily lose your reader's attention. Try to use as few words as possible while still communicating necessary information. Cut unneeded information or language and reduce long, wordy sentences.
Understand the Process
If you feel discouraged, remember that writing is a process. No one produces a perfect story or essay on the first try, not even literature's most renowned authors. For example, Ernest Hemingway rewrote the last page of "A Farewell to Arms" 39 times before he found the right conclusion.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.