In this age where communication is so key, few skills are more important for a person to master than writing. If you don't think you're a good writer or would like to become a better one, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your writing. Here are some ways you can learn how to develop your writing skills and become better at communicating via the written word.
- Write every day. You will be hard-pressed to find a professional writer who doesn't write every day. That's not just because they enjoy it or do it for profit, but it's because they know the best way to get better is to work those writing muscles, hone their skills and practice the craft. If you want to be a better writer, write more. Write every day if possible--even a journal entry, an email or a letter will do. The best way to become a good writer is to practice, practice, practice.
- Read--a lot! Reading offers writers a lot of benefits. First, you see how great writers construct their work. Reading also helps you expand your vocabulary. Often, even simple articles or stories contain new words or terms that you can tuck away for your own future use. Third, reading expands the world you know about--the more you know, the more fodder you have for writing of any kind. If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader.
- Commit certain basic rules to memory and force yourself to use them. While many of the minute peculiarities of grammar may not come into play every day, the basic grammar and writing skills do. It is important to learn these rules and make sure you use them all the time. The person who has a run-on sentence, writes in fragments, or throws in random commas all the time will not have the same success as a writer who knows the basics.
What should every writer know? Good writers should know how to write short, concise, complete sentences. They should know when to use commas to separate ideas in a sentence--and when not to do so. They should know how to get a subject and verb to agree. They should know how to use pronouns clearly. And they should know the difference between slang and real words.
You can learn these things by taking a basic refresher English comp course or by consulting a writing guide like the classic Elements of Style or The New Century Handbook. You will be amazed how much knowing the basics can help you build your skills.
- Take a class. Taking a writing class of any kind is a great way to get tips and develop your skills. Not only will you have assignments that provide good practice, but you will have a professional to point you in the right direction. When you write on your own, it can be hard to know sometimes if your writing is getting better, and tough to gauge where you need to improve. Having a class where someone is evaluating your writing can be a big help in those regards. You will also meet other writers who are honing their craft. While they may not know as much as the teacher, peer review and critiques are a very important part of learning to write.
- Embrace the process. One of the main things a writer can do to develop her skills is to accept that, almost without exception, the best finished pieces come from a multi-step process and not from just pulling words out of thin air or from some pure "inspiration." Prewriting is a crucial, often-skipped stage of the process. People who skip the stage where you brainstorm, outline, organize, and plan often have disorganized work, don't have the best ideas, and have to do a lot of revising. If you don't pre-write--unless you're say, Stephen King--you set yourself up for a subpar finished product. Along the same lines, people who skip the rewriting stage, after they write a first draft, often submit--to whomever their audience is--work that is subpar. Writing is re-writing. There's no way around that. Almost no writing of high quality is a first draft.