November 17, 2014 - Posted to Study
If you didn’t learn to write passably by the end of high school, you are in for some serious remedial work, especially if you are continuing your education.
The first question you have to ask yourself, is, “How bad are my writing skills?” and the answer can be found in the red ink that was or currently is all over your writing assignments.
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Lots of red ink is a problem
If you want to improve writing skills because of your issues with structure, creativity, or verbiage, then everything is simpler than you think! Just for a few tick around for a few more minutes.
If you need effective writing skills in the position you hold (you may have to write reports or send decently written memos to others in your organization), you do want that writing to be clear, coherent, and reflective of good grammar.
Your writing skills won’t improve drastically overnight. Rather it is a process involving constant practice and help from professional writers.
You have to think long-term. Replacing bad habits with good will take time, so accept that fact and start small by forming a daily writing habit.
Now let’s tackle the title of this piece – giving you 11 good writing tips that will help you right now.
If you know you have a deadline for a piece of writing, start early.
I don’t mean hours or a day before; I mean several days before. If you are only several days out from a research paper, however, you are already in trouble, so find a good writing service and open up your wallet.
The reason you have to begin early is that you need to get something – anything – down on paper (or in a Word file) that gives you the psychological peace of knowing that you have at least begun.
Keep going back to it as you get new ideas. Add, eliminate, re-write – remember, you have some time, and that keeps the panic at bay!
Whatever it is you must write (essay, review/report, article, blog post), spend some time reading what others, who have good writing skills, have written on a similar topic.
Obviously, you can’t steal their words, but you can get some ideas about content, structure, and flow.
Thing that worked once, would most probably work twice and thrice!
Figure out the exact structure for your piece.
The first thing you learn about essay writing skills is that you need an introduction, some body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This does not necessarily hold true for other types of writing (a short story or a memo, for example), but you can at least develop an outline that gives you a logical sequence!
You may wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. Sit up and make a note of it.
You may be at lunch, in a meeting, or at a football game. Don’t rely on your memory. Have a mobile app you can use to memorialize it.
Research what you don’t know.
Yes, it can eat up some time, but how are you going to write a blog post about remodeling a kitchen if you don’t know the first thing about it? “Google” is still your best option, so use it!
(Hint: Don’t forget to format your citations and source properly)
Know your audience.
Major part of developing writing skills is the ability to “change gears” based upon the person/people who will read your piece.
If I were using this topic for a college course in English education, the language and mechanics would be far more formal. But I am writing it for you instead, so I can use all those dashes and informal language.
Audience also relates to purpose. If my purpose is to impress a professor with my abilities, I will compose far differently than if I am trying to write a humorous piece for a blog or a “how to” article for a do-it-yourselfer.
Stop with the wordiness.
Seriously. Stop doing that right now.
Having better writing skills means you honor your busy 21st century reader with simpler sentences and succinct style.
Save the verbosity for academic research papers, theses and dissertations. You need to fill up lots of pages in those academic writing environments, and readers will be impressed by your “highbrow” sentences and vocabulary.
- Another tip I find important when people wonder how to improve writing skills is to write when you are in a decent mood. If you are struggling for ideas and words, and that struggle is making you angry, anxious, or depressed, stop writing.
Better writing skills can also come in bursts or flashes of genius. Let a piece you are working on rest for a while, even a day, and then go back to it. You may suddenly see how to be funnier or more compelling.
However, to be a good writer you still need to practice every day. Set attainable goals – like 500 words each day and do it no matter what.
In two weeks you won’t notice how you finished typing over 1.000 in half an hour.
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Don’t “over revise.”
Part of learning how to become a better writer is knowing when you are finished. Every time you look at a piece you have written, you will find something to change.
If you keep it up, you will become frustrated and probably a bit OCD. Perfection is not for mortals, so let it be!
If you have some serious issues with grammar and mechanics, even the best ideas will fall flat.
Get someone with great skills to review and edit your writing, and sit with them as they explain what is wrong and how to fix it.
I have developed a writing skills checklist that you can use to evaluate what you have written.
Download it as a beautiful PDF, Print it out and post it where you write!
- My introduction actually introduces my topic and inspires my reader to go on.
- All of my paragraphs have a single topic, expressed in a sentence, with other detail sentences that all relate to that topic sentence. (may not always apply to narratives, especially when dialogue is involved).
- My sentence lengths and types are varied, and I have not packed too much into any one sentence.
- There is a logical flow – I am not skipping around and confusing a reader.
- My vocabulary is appropriate for my audience. No one is going to be frustrated by words they don’t know.
- I have stuck to the point that I stated in my introduction
- If I have had any worries about grammar, punctuation, word usage, etc., I have had a skilled writer review it.
There you have it! Go forth and become a better writer!