I think the written language is underrated. Speaking is excellent, but well-written statements can get the point across even better at times.
I call myself a writer, but boy, do I have a lot to learn. Every day of my life, I do learn new things about written language. Sometimes, I get frustrated during this learning process, but later on, I appreciate the improvements that have stuck with me, believe it or not, even the insults. But instead of insults, teaching can help us learn more without frustration.
Improving written language skills
Improving language skills in writing can really help locate your voice, your work, and being taken seriously. That’s right, good writing skills also carry respect. As for those who are learning a second language, written language skills are a must. There are several ways we can do this.
Your writing can always improve
1. Use the dash
Everyone’s familiar with commas, so much so that they over-use them all the time. There’s even an epidemic of comma splicing that makes some people cringe. This is where using dashes can come in handy – you will really appreciate how they work.
See, I just used one there, and it broke away a bit from the use of too many commas. Practice using the dash to change it up a little bit.
2. Write straight through
The first draft is so important. While so many people try to write and rewrite as they go, it’s really better to write straight through, mistakes, senseless sentences and all.
The reason you should write up the draft all the way first is to keep the flow. When you stop to correct things, you lose a bit of the atmosphere of what you’re writing, and you can even forget the larger picture of your written work.
Improving written language sometimes means writing bad material. Within this bad material, there is a story, a speech, or an essay, but at first, it must be a rough draft. After the first draft is completed, you can use your skills to improve your work.
3. Use an outline
Writing well sometimes requires creating an outline of your topic. In fact, doing this can greatly improve your writing skills over time. This is because an outline helps keep your intricate ideas in order within the body of the basic concept of your work.
Even though creating an outline may sound like something elementary, it can be used by writers of all ages to produce successful projects.
4. Read… and read some more
Have you truly ever connected the ability to write well with reading? Most people have made this connection, but for those who haven’t, this will be a game-changer. Reading many books, and in a variety of genres will help you develop your own voice.
When you’re trying to improve your written language skills, having a memory of the flow of a few good books will give you a flow of your own. Just make sure you don’t accidentally copy any material from your head. Hey, I’ve done this before.
5. Learn sentence geography
There are ways of writing which can draw attention to a certain part of a sentence. It’s about placement, emphasis, and mood. Yes, all aspects of a sentence are important, but there’s almost always a special part of the sentence that hooks the reader….not just the piece of work itself.
Learning sentence geography is like using psychological placement instead of something like “all caps” to draw attention to certain words. There are a number of ways to do this such as using unusual adjectives or verbs. The point is to help the reader experience the written word instead of just read.
6. Research is important
I cannot stress enough about how important it is to research certain topics, especially if you know little about them. Without research your writing, well, it will basically be filled with fluff instead of facts.
Fluff is repeating the information you do know or vague statements instead of using new factual information. So avoiding this, doing proper research will greatly improve your writing.
7. Try different genres
Another way to improving written skills is to expand. Most people have an area that they either love, or feel is easier for them to create within, but writing in various genres does something magical.
If you’re used to writing non-fictional memoirs, then you should try poetry, fiction, and smaller projects like descriptions and website content. There are many areas where writing is needed, and it’s smart to delve into as many of these areas as possible.
8. Write every day
If writing isn’t necessarily your job, then you’re probably not writing every day. A great way to improve your written language skills is to write like it’s your job. It doesn’t matter what type of writing you do as long as you’re picking up the pen, or the keyboard and putting words together.
Here’s a tip: set a number of words per day and make sure you write at least that many words each day. Then, maybe you can increase the number of words as you go, which will help even more.
9. Join a writing group
Writing workshops may seem intimidating, but sharing your ideas with other writers can help you see your work through other minds. You can bounce ideas off others getting well-needed critique to help you improve.
Being around others can also boost your morale and confidence giving you the courage to pursue the writing project or job you need to finish.
10. Have a good editor
Whether you work with a professional editor, or you work with a friend who is a more seasoned writer, who is also delving into editing, let your work be ruthlessly edited. If you don’t let your work be closely examined, critiqued, and torn apart, you will never learn your weak points in the written language.
Yes, you may be skilled, but you also have shortcomings like everyone else. An editor will find these shortcomings for you and show you what needs to be changed.
11. Simplify and balance
Sometimes, simple is better. Beginning writers and sometimes those who’ve been writing for a long time use embellishment or too many adjectives. Sometimes writers even use sentences that are much too long just to get points across.
The truth is, breaking down these sentences, and sometimes using simpler words can work much better. On the other hand, remember to refrain from using only short sentences. A good idea would be to balance sentence lengths, which can not only provide the best information but can keep the audience interested, thus make them read more.
12. Look at old work
They say living in the past is a bad thing, but in this case, it can improve your writing skills. By looking at your old work, you can see the differences between how you write now and how your skills faired in the past.
You can do so many things with this practice – you can see how you’ve improved, and you can build your confidence. If you have lots of old work, you should realize, you’ve come far in the writing world.
13. Teaching material
If learning to improve the basics of writing is what you need, then sometimes written material is the best option. The OWLS 2 Assessment helps teach the basics of the written language with oral and written comprehension scales. This material is actually created for ages 3-21 but can be used by anyone interested in learning the basics of language.
Becoming better with the written language
Although getting your point across by speaking may be easier for some people, the written language, for others, is the only way to communicate correctly. Whether this is the case, you’re a writer, or you’re just learning a language for the first time, practicing these steps and others, will help you greatly improve.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. So, dig in and learn all you can about your written language skills.
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