Importance of developing writing skill
English is the third-most spoken language in the world and has become the unofficial global language. In today’s shrinking global world, learning the language has become more important than ever in order to communicate with and work in the corporate world. It is of no doubt that if one has to survive in today’s cut-throat competition, one should have good command over the language.
Many countries including India have included English in their school syllabus and children are starting to learn English at a younger and younger age. However, the majority of the population does not have exposure to hearing English being spoken and opportunities to practice conversing in English. Listening to a language and being able to practice speaking are the two main ways by which human beings learn a language. In this scenario, many young adults despair, thinking they will never be able to gain proficiency in English. This is not true. With dedicated efforts and a commitment to learning, it is indeed possible to improve one’s English proficiency and writing skills by following these tried-and-tested tips.
Below are the top 8 tips to hone your writing skills. Begin by incorporating one tip at a time into your life and keep following them regularly to start writing like an expert.
1. Read, Read, Read!
Reading is very closely related to writing and the best way to improve writing is to read as much as you can! Reading will help improve your vocabulary and knowledge of sentence structure and grammar. If you don’t understand certain words, look them up and make a note for your own later reference. For example, reading sample resumes will help you immensely if you are writing your own resume as you will have a much better idea about the typical words and phrases to be used and how the sentences need to be framed. Reading and re-reading is the single-most powerful way to improve writing skills.
2. Make a Dictionary Your Best Friend
Be inquisitive and every time you read or hear a new word, check for the meaning in a dictionary. There are many dictionary apps too for your phone and now with several offline dictionary apps available, you don’t even have to turn your data on to google a word. The apps show you not just the meaning of words but also their antonyms (opposites), synonyms (words with similar meaning) as well as the usage of the word in a sentence. Using a dictionary is a great way to extend your vocabulary.
3. Work on Grammar
Getting the grammar correct is a fundamental step in improving writing skills. This is common advice anyone would get when it comes to mastering writing skills. Well, it might be a bit of a boring solution to open a grammar book and wonder where to start from. If you aren’t up for that then there are numerous online options that make grammar practice fun and easy. You can try Purdue University’s ‘The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)’ which houses writing resources and instructional materials and provides these as a free service. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Just google ‘The Purdue OWL’ to find it.
You can also try ‘Grammar Ninja’ which is an app where players hunt down all instances of parts of speech within sentences and race against the clock to tap the number of correct words shown at the bottom of the page. There are many other such fun apps you can explore to strengthen your vocabulary and grammar such as Duolingo, Quiz Your English by Cambridge Assessment English, British Council’s Learn English Grammar, and many more. Correct grammar comes from repeated writing and from regular reading. The more you read, the more correct grammar you will be exposed to.
Poor spellings can ruin an otherwise good piece of writing. So, always double-check for spelling errors. You can also use Grammarly to correct spellings for you. You can start by installing Grammarly for free in your laptop and when you add the Grammarly extension to your browser, you’ll be able to directly access Grammarly’s writing suggestions from Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and most other sites on the web. You’ll know it’s working when you see a green G in the lower right corner of the text field you’re writing in. In order to receive premium suggestions on your writing, you have to pay and purchase for an annual subscription. A few other alternatives to Grammarly are ProWritingAid, Sapling, Ginger, WhiteSmoke, and PaperRater.
5. Play with Sentences
Learn how to expand your basic sentences into more elaborate ones. For instance, sentences with a simple ‘Subject – Verb’ structure such as “Vishal studies” or “My friend is playing” can be easily elaborated or extended into sentences such as “Vishal, my brother, studies at home” and “My childhood friend Nadira is always playing chess. Extending your sentences while writing is not difficult at all. Watch this really interesting video to learn how to stretch your sentences. You will become a pro in no time!
6. Organise Paragraphs Properly
When you move from writing sentences to writing paragraphs, it’s crucial to begin with a well-organized layout. Start a paragraph with a topic or introductory sentence and continue with supporting sentences that support the main idea, theme, or topic of the paragraph. Make sure there is a link from one sentence to another and finish the paragraph with a strong conclusion. Also, ensure to keep the sentences small, as too long sentences might make the reader fail to understand the meaning of the text. If you have sentences longer than 25 words, try to break them up or condense them.
7. Outline your Work
Before you start to write anything - from a paragraph to an essay - do thorough research on the topic. On any given topic, there can always be several different angles and points of view. As you’re reading, take notes when you see interesting information, facts or quotes you might want to use. After you have done sufficient research, put down the objective to avoid drifting off on tangents. Then, jot down all the main points you want to cover. Once you have the outline set, kick-start your writing. Remember, the outline is only to guide you and not control you.
8. Ask Someone to Review
Writing is a skill that needs to be constantly honed as there is always room to learn more. A lot of times, it is difficult for us to see our own mistakes. Or, your brain will skim over and read what it thinks you've written, not what's actually there. So, always ask someone to review your work to get feedback. After all, knowledge shared is knowledge squared. Also, don't blindly accept all the changes or suggestions made. Take time to look at the corrections and suggestions they've made to understand what errors you are making in your writing. Make a note of your frequently misspelt words or misused phrases.
Now that we have touched upon the tips to consider to master writing, be assured that grammar and informational or persuasive essay exercises aren’t the only important exercises writers need to do to hone their skills and craft. As a writer, you always must keep reading because the process of improving your writing never ends. There’s always more to learn and get inspired from. As a writer, you have the utmost power to influence people and invoke thought processes. As William. H Gass rightly said, “A true alchemist does not change lead into gold; they change the world into words”. Believe in yourself and start working on yourself with one tip at a time to unleash your writing potential.