When it comes to learning the English language, especially as a second language, it can be pretty overwhelming. It is an entirely new language that you are learning. You have to focus on things like building a better vocabulary or learning how to improve your speech. On top of that, you have to learn how to write it correctly. In a way, all your concepts and thoughts are perfectly articulated. But truth to be told, it isn’t as difficult as you think.
I have been writing for about ten years now, and honestly speaking, I have come a long way. I spent a lot of time trying to ‘perfect’ it, to understand its complexity until it was broken down into simple pieces in front of me. And now, it’s time for me to share exactly what I did with you. My main focus with this article is to make you realize how easy improving your English language writing skills can be. Practice is vital, and you are already practicing. Whether you text, write emails, or stories, or if you even post on your social media. So you are already writing, and now all you have to do is follow some time and tricks to improve your writing. Again, Don’t let the change bother you! Once you get in a flow, I guarantee everything else will come easy to you.
Writing is not just about putting words on a blank sheet. To be a good writer, you need to learn how to add structure to your writing and tighten it up according to the readers’ needs. Think of it as sewing clothes. When a tailor sews clothes, they don’t do it, so they fit them, but they fit the people who will wear them. The same goes for writing. Please don’t make it, so they only match your criteria, but think about what the readers will like and how to make reading anything more effortless for them. In the end, they will only consume what you give them IF they want it.
If you want to express your thoughts clearly, you need to know the words to do that. So, you have to expand your vocabulary. Now I Don’t mean you open a dictionary and start learning all the words in. Improving and expanding your vocabulary is not about just knowing a lot of words. It’s also about learning how to use them and with context. This video, How to improve your vocabulary by eliminating very, is fascinating as it brings your focus on using words you might already know but Don’t use them. It’s all about being clever with the words you choose, so the reader understands it the best. The pithy saying “To err is human” is very much true in writing. This article highlights common errors you should be avoid in your daily writing.
In an article Monash University published about how to write clearly, concisely, and precisely ( linked here). They had an in-depth explanation of how to write clearly. They mentioned explaining different terminologies that a reader might not be familiar with or not to be ambiguous, so your text can’t be interpreted in more than one way (unless you want it to be). This puts emphasis on the fact that you should know what you are writing about so you can explain it to your reader. If you have any confusion, it will be translated in hour writing, therefore confusing the reader.
Ask yourself what do you want the result of your writing to be. What information should it portray, and what kind of feeling do you want it to invoke? With all the answers in mind, move on with your writing. This way, you will have a clear purpose, and your writing will show that.
# 3 Improve Your Grammar
Grammar is an essential aspect of your writing as it allows your writing to be comprehended by the reader. Punctuations and grammar can be the main factor in differentiating ‘good’ writing from ‘bad’ writing. When you write, your primary focus should be ‘how do I ensure that reading this is accessible for all my readers, unless you are ranting in your journal, then there are no rules. For you to be successful, you would need to use adjectives and adverbs liberally to emphasize or qualify your statements.
Here Gregg Macmillan, president at TechneGraphic, talks about the sheer importance of spelling, capitalization, and grammar. In the section ‘Grammer,’ he talks about morphology, which is basically all the structure and forms of words, and also how they are put into sentences. Once you clearly understand grammar and all its aspects, only then do you realize its true importance. But then again, it’s also okay to break some rules (within reason) if your writer asks for it. See? This goes back to #2, understanding the concepts of your writing. Only then will you be able to tell what kind of grammar your writing requires.
Speaking from firsthand experience, it is really easy to go on a tangent and over-explain everything you are writing. But all it serves to do is make your writing overwhelming. When you write, ask yourself, ‘is the information provided to the reader enough for them to understand?’ or you can ask yourself, ‘is what I’m writing important for the understanding of the reader?’ If not, scratch it.
There are certain words that you might be used to reading and writing, but they don’t really have a purpose. See what I do there? The ‘really’ in the sentence has no actual meaning. If I remove it from the sentence, you will still understand what I mean. Of course, they can add personality to your writing in some instances, but more often than not, they just clutter up your writing.
If you want some help or some examples to recognize these filler words and phrases, Grammarly has a link you can take reference from.
When it comes to writing, the words you choose are of utmost importance (obviously). John Grisham has broken them down to 1) words we should know 2) words we do know 3) words nobody knows. Unless you need to be poetic or are using fancy words for a story, it’s no fun for a person to read all these big words. They can clearly sense that you are showing off, and they most probably will not know what you mean. Let’s be honest; not everyone is willing to search for the meaning of words. So just don’t even bother, no matter how many of those big words you know, just don’t do it.
Tip #6 and #7 go hand in hand. Unless you want to be the new Shakespeare, stick to simple sentences. No need to overly complicate them; they aren’t fun to read. Just vary the length of the sentences you use, so there is a bit of flow to your writing.
One thing that can make your writing stand out from the rest is letting your personality peak through it. Using personal anecdotes if needed, words or phrases that you usually use. Let yourself free (unless you are writing something formal, in that case, DON’T let yourself be free). Of course, everything you do should be within reason. The world is your oyster, have fun with your writing. Don’t overthink it, and you might just have written the next best thing. You won’t know unless you give yourself a real chance.
The best way to catch any mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Not only will you catch grammar and spelling mistakes, but you will also see if the flow of sentences is correct. If it sounds choppy and weird, add or remove sentences and then see if they work. If you are struggling to read a sentence, then it isn’t straightforward. It would be best if you fixed that as well.
All the people who are too lazy to read their work out loud, I got you. You can make Google Docs read it for you. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make google docs read your writing out loud (you can thank me later). If possible, have someone else read your work as a second opinion. They might be able to catch mistakes you missed and also might give you their insight as a reader.
If you are someone who can get lost in writing and struggles with keeping themselves on track, this tip is for you. Make a sort of mind map before you start your actual writing. If you don’t know how to make one, here is a video that has everything about mind maps. Write all the points you want to include, whether it’s for a story, an article, or even an email. Unless all your points are there, your writing will be incomplete. So when you start writing, have the pointers on a piece of paper with you, and each time you are done writing a point, cross it out from the list. This will help you keep track of it and will avoid repeating or missing out on a topic.
Pick up your pen, your laptop, or your typewriter, and just start writing. Unless you write and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, you will never get good at writing. Keeping it in your head and perfecting your writing in your head is not enough. You will need to make several drafts, each new one better than the previous one. The first time you might have to create ten drafts, then over time, the number of drafts will reduce as you learn where you go wrong and improve yourself.
The star can be overwhelming. Having the courage to start writing the first sentence, reading the first draft can all be too much. You might feel demotivated if your writing does not come out as you want it to be. But that’s just the beginner. Simone Biles did not win an Olympic gold medal the first time she did gymnastics, just like JK Rowling did not get Harry Potter Published on her first try. Mistakes can be bard to make, but the day you see them as learning opportunities, as a step closer to your success, is the day you will start seeing a change.
So here you go, all the time and tricks I have learned over the ten years I have written. Now they are with you. There are the tips I learned each time I made a mistake, each time I regarded myself as ‘not good enough. And I need to share it with you so you realize how much you can do and all the potential you have. Only very few succeed on their first try, and if you don’t, don’t bring yourself down. I know I did, and it did nothing to help me improve my writing; it only made it worse. I have been doing this for a decade, and I still make mistakes, but now instead of letting them bring me down, I always use them to become better and learn, as should you.
Did you find these 11 tips and tricks helpful? Do they now make you feel like you conquer your writing? Tell us how you felt about them in the comments below, and if you tried them out, how did they work for you? Until then, happy writing!