Monday, February 17, 2014

10 quick tips to be a better writer

For people that are gifted with the ability to write, it can be bemusing to hear people say: “writing is difficult”. Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy but if you have the talent for it, you will find that no matter how complex the subject is, you will find a way to write well about it.

This article is not about those who can already write, it is about those who find it very difficult, almost impossible to write effectively. I have 10 simple and easy tips you can follow to improve your writing very quickly.

1. Read a lot
Writing requires having knowledge of what you want to write about and there is no better way to learn than to read. Reading can be done cheaply by going to a public library, buying newspapers/magazines and of course on the Internet. Not just should you read, you should also read widely. They say: “readers are leaders” and if you want people to read your work, you have to know what you are writing about.

2. Write down your ideas
This is not essential for those who are proficient at writing but it does help us too. For you that are about to start, it is absolutely essential. You should have a notepad and a pen or pencil with you. Whenever you are inspired by anything, write it down, it will help you later to remember what you found interesting and would like to write about.

3. Keep a diary
Closely related to tip 2 is keeping a diary. This should be your starting point for writing, jot down important events, people and dates in it. Write a short note about whatever it is you have jotted and within a short period, you would have improved your word power (knowledge and spelling of words) as well as writing ability.

4. Learn a little about many things
Writing becomes easier when you have a lot of knowledge and experience. You can easily make connections between different concepts and would be confident enough to write about them because at the back of your mind you have the assurance that you know what you are presenting is correct, factual and accurate.

5. Practice English tests and examinations
Many of us dread examinations but in terms of writing, they are perhaps the fastest way to improve your writing capacity. If you are afraid of failing these private tests, you can start with the basics. Get primary school textbooks or past questions with answers and explanation, the advantage of starting at a basic level is that it improves your confidence and nobody is there to judge you unless you show them your worksheet. Remember, you are writing the test or examination for personal development. This should help you get over any exam jitters you may have. Even if you fail, you just have to review the answers and read the explanations for better understanding.

6. Use a word processor on your computer or smart device
Many of us now have access to computers, tablets or smartphones. You should use your keyboard dictionary and word processing applications like Microsoft Word or Write to review you writing for any errors. Technically, you are typing but you are allowed to call it writing as long as it is meant to be read. This will help you with spellings, understanding tenses, phrases and clauses within English thereby improving your writing.

7. Focus on learning one version of English first
There are several internationally recognised versions of English such as “British (UK) English”, “American English”, “Australian English” and others. However, it would be confusing trying to master all of them at one. For example, the British spell “colour” whilst Americans spell “color”. Americans spell “defense” whilst the British spell “defence”. It is advisable that you set your keyboard and word processor to the version of English that is official in your country of residence. This will allow you understand that version better first before trying to learn the differences between the international versions.

8. Join a writing group
You can join a writers’ group in your community. Writers are generally friendly people that love to share their work and help others develop the art. If you are too shy to physically meet people, you can join an online writing club or community. It is advisable to choose one with people close to where you live. This helps you to make more friends that you can actual visit physically to have face-to-face discussions and interactions.

9. Drop SMS/IM language and slangs
We live in the social media age with different online platforms having their unique language and abbreviations. This trend is very negative for your development as a writer and you should stop using abbreviations until you actually improve your mastery of formal English. Do not spell “night” as “nyt” and most definitely “nice” should not be spelt as “9ce”.

10. Practice! Practice!! Practice!!!
Good writing is rewriting, the more you write, the better you will become. Let your friends review your work and do not be afraid or discouraged by taunts or other forms of negative feedback. Focus on your goal of becoming a proficient writer whenever you feel discouraged.

There you have it, 10 easy and actionable tips to help you become a better writer in a very short period of time. Let me know your thoughts buy dropping a comment, I would also love to answer any questions you may have so feel free to ask them. Kindly share this post with your friends too; we writers love exposure and lots of feedback!

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