8 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills
What did you write today? Did you send any emails? Maybe you wrote a note to a classmate or a colleague. Or you completed a written assignment, an essay or a report. And, did you just leave a message on a friend’s Facebook wall?
Well, even if you are not taking exams, there’s just no getting away from writing! That’s why learning to write in English is just as important as learning to speak. But how do you practise writing? We are here to help!
1. Reading Matters
It may sound obvious, but this is a great place to start. Regular reading is a stepping stone to better writing. The best writers are also keen readers, and reading on a regular basis is an easy way to start developing your writing skills.
Simply read for pleasure and you’ll pick things up subconsciously. Always choose texts that interest you; learning should never be boring! You can read about whatever topics you like. Just make sure you read a lot. Expose yourself to a variety of styles, voices and forms of writing. Luckily, you can easily find lots of graded readers and books of various genres created specifically for learners of foreign languages.
2. Learning New Vocabulary
It goes without saying that to write with more confidence and fluency, you need to expand your vocabulary. You may understand the meaning of lots of words in English. However, if you want to be able to express yourself clearly, you have to be able to use these words correctly.
That’s why word lists do not help; use example sentences, focus on prepositions, keep your eyes open for phrases, idioms and collocations. For example, learning the word ‘depend’ is easy, but knowing that ‘you depend on something’ is much more useful!
3. Mastering Spelling
Some words can be really tricky and confusing! ‘Bare’ and ‘bear’ sound the same. But do you want to be naked or a large animal? A ‘desert’ is a hot and dry place like the Sahara, but add a letter (and some whipped cream!) and you have a ‘dessert’, something sweet to eat!
There are a lot of words in English that look or sound alike but have very different meanings. Learn the notorious commonly confused words! And keep a list of words you commonly confuse.
And always use a pen and paper; no computer means no autocorrect. So, you need to think about how to correctly spell words rather than relying on technology and smart devices to do it for you!
4. Playing Devil’s Advocate
Imagine that you have to write an opinion essay. Or a ‘for & against’ essay. What side would you support if you talked to a friend? Write about the topic from the opposite or a different point of view!
This is what we call ‘playing devil’s advocate’; you express an opinion which you may not agree with. And that’s a great way to learn how to express opinions in English. Did we also mention that you’ll probably practise words and phrases which you don’t normally use, since you’re writing from a different perspective? Well, that’s a win-win situation!
5. Remembering the Grammar Rules
Without good knowledge of grammar, you simply can’t clearly express your thoughts. Make sure to practise your grammar skills from time to time!
6. Making an Outline
Using outlines or diagrams and lists of essential ideas or plot points can give you a precious map to follow as you write. And this can save you time by keeping you focused as you write, so you don’t deviate from the topic.
And if you are taking exams, bear in mind that a well-structured essay for an examiner is like adding maple syrup to pancakes – that extra, necessary finishing touch!
7. Using Transitions & Linking Words
To help make your writing flow, you have to use transition and linking words or phrases. These can help you show the relationship between ideas, connect paragraphs and introduce a summary or a conclusion.
8. Just… Doing It!
Get a pencil and paper or sit in front of your computer. The first step to help you improve your writing is to just write and keep on writing. Remember, practice makes perfect!
You could also keep a diary in English. It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you’re making a habit of writing every day.
Keep in mind that you can’t learn how to write overnight. Writing is actually pretty similar to working out. The first few times you do it, you struggle to even finish! And when improving your writing skills seems hard, don’t be disappointed… Ernest Hemingway, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald that he wrote one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of nonsense!
Have you got any other suggestions? Have you ever practised your writing in English? Tell us what’s helped you in the comments section below; we’d love to know what you think!
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