Being able to properly communicate information, thoughts, and even stories in a written format is a necessary and incredibly valuable life skill. Everything from emails to speeches, to projects, can only be as effective as your communication style allows. We are here to offer you foundational advice on how to become a better writer. So break out your pen or a blank Word document and let’s begin!
Use a Grammar Checking App
Grammar is a tricky beast. The rules are difficult to remember and the level of formality you’re writing with can also shift grammatical “dos” and “don’ts”. No one is perfect, especially when it comes to grammar, so don’t be afraid to find a little bit of help when you need it. Luckily we are living in an age of information that can be accessed at the touch of a button. There are countless applications available to assist you on your quest for perfect grammar.
Read your Writing Out Loud
When people first begin writing it’s easy to fall into the trap of stiff writing. We all know what this looks like because everyone has come across this kind of writing a number of times and it’s never enjoyable to read. Each sentence should flow into the next, connecting ideas in the process and illustrating a thought or narrative rather than coming to an abrupt halt at each period. The easiest way to fight this tendency is to attempt to write as you speak. Have an idea of what you want to say and then begin putting your words on paper.
After you’ve written a paragraph or more the next step is to go over your work. A good trick that many professional writers preach is to read your writing aloud. You might feel a little silly at first but it is incredibly effective. It will help you catch spelling and grammatical errors, missed punctuation, run-on sentences, and awkward wording. If it doesn’t feel natural to read aloud then it might be best to try rewording your point. This technique also gives you a better understanding of how another person will read your writing. Never undervalue this insight.
This is not the first time you’ve heard the colloquialism “practice makes perfect.” It might be a bit of a cliché, but studies consistently support the sentiment. Anything you want to improve in life will take practice regardless of initial natural talent. Writing is no different. It takes constant practice to become a better writer. Not everything you write will be the next Great American Novel, and it probably won’t even be close for years. Don’t let this discourage you though. Just focus on being productive rather than perfect. Focus on having fun with writing and becoming comfortable communicating thoughts and ideas in this medium. Once you’ve become relaxed enough to start experimenting with different forms and styles you’ll realize that you’ve found your voice as a writer.
One thing you’ll hear over and over again in your pursuit of improved writing skills is that good writer are good readers. This isn’t a shocking concept because the more immersed you are in the written language the more comfortable you’ll be using it. Reading books exposes readers to multiple writing styles and different ways to effectively communicate ideas through writing. It will teach new words to you which will expand your vocabulary, as well as introduce you to different expressions. Ultimately, if you want to write like a master you need to learn from the masters. This is good news though because nothing is more fun than learning while being entertained by the likes of Hemingway or Austen. Learning is rarely this enjoyable, so make sure you stop by your local or online bookstore to buy books that sound interesting to you.
Always Think About your Audience
Finally, always keep your audience in mind. This could be anything from a co-worker on the other side of an email to thousands of subscribers to a blog post. Ultimately you want to adjust your language to suit the context and audience you writing for. It should be accessible and engaging to them, so always keep this in the back of your mind as you write. For instance, formal language should be used in an academic article to be taken seriously. A blog post, on the other hand, should be light-hearted and slang might even be appropriate in order to keep readers entertained. Adjusting your writing style accordingly displays strong writing skills while also demonstrating authority over the topic you’re writing about.
The journey to becoming a good writer will always be a work in progress. Even when you’re a good writer you could always be better, but it is best to see this as an opportunity rather than a negative thing. These tips will get you started on the process. Best of luck!