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5 Tips on How to Improve Your Writing Skills

By Edited Jul 25, 2016 1 1

Writing (38412)

Why Should I Improve My Writing?

Written communication is important. Job resumes, college essays, business letters, you name it – much of today's world is highly dependent on clearly expressing your thoughts and ideas through writing. If you don't think you need improvement, think again. Nearly everyone (unless you're an English or literature professor) commits subtle errors in spelling and/or grammar. Consider the following example:

Strolling along gracefully in the afternoon sun, the Evergreen Park came into our view.

Did you find anything wrong with this seemingly harmless sentence? Believe it or not, this sentence has transgressed the ever-so-strict laws of the English language. This is known as a dangler. Take a look at the subject and verb of the sentence and their syntactical relation.

Strolling along gracefully in the afternoon sun, the Evergreen Park came into our view.

Who did the strolling? Apparently the Evergreen Park did – that's the noun that has been attached to the verb. This erroneous example is simply a very subtle (albeit common) instance of a grammatical mistake by way of mixed up words. A good idea would be to modify the subject to the pronoun we. It could possibly be rewritten:

As we were strolling along gracefully in the afternoon sun, the Evergreen Park came into our view.

Possessing the ability to formulate your words and sentences correctly and poignantly on paper will certainly encourage others to view you in a better light. They'll see you as much more educated, intelligent, respectable, professional, and yes – even more attractive. Additionally, remaining unsure about your writing abilities will inevitably leave a vestige of doubt in your words, rendering yourself sounding less confident.

1. Learn to Differentiate Between Formal and Informal English

I've included this one first, because it is the most rudimentary of all pointers one can provide. You'll need to be able to understand what type of social dialect to use in various situations. This is probably obvious to most people, but according to many high school teachers, some students continue to use "texting" languages such as the word string im at ur house now r u ok? Needless to say, this type of patois is unacceptable for professional or educational purposes.

Use informal English on your friends only, if you must (I personally prefer proper spelling and grammar in all situations). For all interactions with your teachers, bosses, and clients, use formal writing.

2. Improve Your Vocabulary

This is probably the most important thing you can do if you want to sound more technical. But technicality isn't always the most important aspect of writing, unless you're a ghostwriter for a law firm (don't you just love reading those End User License Agreement documents?).

You should learn words that are relevant to fields of study that you'll partake in. If you're majoring in English Literature, then I'd advise to familiarize yourself with Early Modern English words like refel or prithee. However, if you plan to raise your level of vocabulary competence in general (as most people probably would, i.e., for business) then it would be best to study SAT vocabulary words such as clandestine, reticent, and vapid.

Old-fashioned flashcards work quite well, but it can take a long time and a lot of resources to make several hundred. I'd recommend spaced-repetition software such as Mnemosyne. You'll also procure the great feeling of knowing that you can beat all of your buddies in Scrabble.

3. Brush Up on Your Grammar

This one is self-explanatory. Unfortunately, there aren't any shortcuts to becoming more familiar with formal grammar other than simply studying it yourself. Microsoft Spell Check won't always save you either (remember the complexity of the English language; it's something that computers won't be able to "master" for many years to come).

Check out some grammar books at your local library, find resources online, or attend a class at your local college – every little bit helps.

4. Brush Up on Your Spelling

Your spelling is of as tantamount importance as your grammar, and your prospective job employer will understand this when you write under the "Why should we hire you?" subsection that you'll "cum on time". (That is an actual response I stumbled upon when I was flipping though my former job's applications.)

You can rest assured that when you learn new vocabulary words, they will interconnect with your previously known words to help you understand the new words' spelling and morphology. Symbiosis is probably easier to spell when you comprehend how the easy words symmetry, biology, and hypnosis are etymologically broken down. Again, there is no real shortcut; you simply have to practice, practice, and practice. There are such things as mnemonic devices, however, which are tricks to remember and assist in your spelling (and anything else as well). For instance, one particular mnemonic device I used in elementary school was that the adverb together is the exact same thing as the three consecutive words to, get, and her. Having known this, I never misspelled that particular word.

5. Read and Write More

One of the most popular authors in modern times, Stephen King, has stated that if you want to become an exceptional writer, then you must read, and read a lot. Additionally, I've heard other authors proclaim this before, and for a good reason. Reading forces you to incorporate and analyze words mentally based on contextual relevancy, and slowly (but surely) allows you to comprehend and process your language quicker. It's basically the equivalent to giving your language skills a cardiovascular workout.

Regarding writing: it's among the best ways to memorize and understand something. This is a well-known factoid of the self-improvement community; namely, that written words are very powerful. Social scientists have shown that writing things down means a much stronger obligation to those very words as opposed to simply speaking them. This is because writing something down involves active commitment, compared to simply saying it, which implies passive commitment.

Writing more often will certainly help your... well, writing. You're basically practicing the art you wish to augment your proficiency in, and practice always makes perfect.

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Comments

Aug 11, 2011 6:06pm
danmont
The best way to improve your English is by living in an English speaking country; UK preferable :) but what really would help you even more is to find an English or American partner.
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