Many students have great difficulty in trying to improve their English writing.
They simply don’t know where to start. What do you have to do?
Unlike speaking which seems far more natural, with writing you see the words appear on the screen and they may appear clumsy or disjointed. You know there is something wrong but you have no idea where to start.
In this guide, I have outlined a few simple methods on what you can do to see fast results in your English writing ability. You need to make serious efforts in each of these approaches. Turn them into regular writing habits and watch as your writing skills improve dramatically.
Are you ready?
Let’s get into it.
Work on your English Vocabulary
One of the main problems for students is not knowing what words to use when writing. They constantly reach for the dictionary in an attempt to find the right word and after a while become disheartened.
Instead of just giving up and assuming that your English is not good enough you need to take a proactive role and make progress.
Arm yourself with more words, build up your reserves of English vocabulary and then you can write with more fluency and flair.
Reading is a great way to improve your word power. I wrote an article about reading right here. Take a look and see how it can benefit you in boosting your English vocabulary.
Check your Spelling too
And the great thing about reading is that it not only helps you build your vocabulary — it will condition you to spell words correctly too.
Nothing is worse than seeing bad spelling in a piece of writing. It immediately leaves a poor impression on the writer. So that is another reason to pick up a book or start reading your favourite blog. It will help you to check your spelling every time.
Over time, your mind will become conditioned by seeing words as we should spell them.
This will make your writing much better and give a good impression on whoever reads your writing.
Read Every Day
Read every day.
Not only will it help with building your vocabulary and help to check your spelling but it will also help with sentence structure and how you can use words together.
Anyone that writes must also read regularly. Reading informs the writing — the two go hand in hand with each other.
Check my articles here on reading for pleasure.
One of the most common phrases you will hear when asking how to write is this — just write.
It is infuriating to see these two words as an explanation but effectively that is what you have to do.
You must force yourself to write every day. If you get into this habit, you will see a great development in your writing ability in English.
If you have the determination to just write something every day, your writing will improve.
There are many ways to do this. One of the best ways is to start a personal journal.
Check my article here on how to do it.
Be a Critic
You can’t understand how to write well until you can detect what is wrong in other people’s writing.
If you critique others writing you will start to see errors not only in other people’s writing but in your own too.
Being a critic really makes you evaluate your own writing.
There are two main ways you can do this.
Let’s look at them now.
Find a Writing Partner
It is not a good idea to work in isolation all the time. We all need to bounce our ideas off others and get feedback on what we are doing. Equally, it is good practice to give feedback to others in return.
You can spend hours every day writing but ultimately you will need to show it to someone and get a critique.
With this in mind, I would advise you to find a writing partner. You could ask one of your classmates or someone else that you know.
Then it is just a matter of each of you sharing your writing with each other and giving a critique. This is helpful because you are getting criticism of your writing from someone — plus you are writing a critique of someone else’s writing. By doing this, you start to examine what makes good writing good.
It is a very useful thing to do. And so easy.
Join a Writers’ Workshop
There are writers’ workshops in every town. You just need to find one that appeals to you.
Writers’ workshops are an excellent way for you to practice and improve your writing. You will be in a group of like-minded people who are all willing to help you with your writing.
Do not worry if you are not a native English speaker. I was a member of a writing group in which there were several people whose first language was not English. Everyone was very accommodating and helpful.
In a good workshop, they will give you a writing prompt. You then write something based on the prompt. So, for example, it could be ‘someone stole something from me’. And you write a story or piece of writing based on that.
You submit it and all the other members read it. You read all the other member submissions too.
Then when you all meet up, you give each other critiques of each other’s writing.
This is like a free writing class.
You can find a writing workshop by looking online. It is easy, and it is free.
Learn How to Outline
A really useful thing to learn when writing is outlining.
Outlining is the process of making an outline or a plan of what you want to write. If you create a good outline, then you can save yourself a lot of time because you know what you want to write and you are less likely to make mistakes.
Great writers use outlines to plan their novels, magazine writers use outlines to plan their articles. When you go to university, you may be introduced to the five-point essay plan. This will help you plan what you want to write in your essay assignments.
You can check out some great resources on outlining here.
All the best writers learn how to edit their own writing.
You can’t just write something, give it a quick read and then hand it to your teacher. You need to edit everything you write.
That means you must check every word, every sentence.
The more you go over all your writing and edit your own work, the better your writing will be.
There are some guides on the editing process here.
Practice All the Styles of Writing
There are four main styles of writing. These are:
You need to practice writing all of these styles to ensure you become a more accomplished writer in English.
What are these styles?
Expository — in this style of writing you are trying to explain, describe or inform the reader about a topic. The writing has to be very clear in its meaning.
Descriptive — in this kind of writing you describe a person, place or thing. Create a mental picture in the reader’s mind.
Persuasive — this is where you have to persuade or convince the reader of your line of argument or opinion.
Narrative — and in this final style you are telling a story.
These writing styles have their uses and they are all very common. You need to get into the habit of using them all the time.
Use a Dictionary
And it should go without saying that you should always use a dictionary when you are writing. Do not expect that you will know every word in the English language – that would be near impossible.
I use a dictionary all the time and I find it very useful.
By using a dictionary you can expand your word power or find other more suitable words for your writing.
You can also use a thesaurus. This can help you find better, more appropriate words or phrases for anything you are writing.
Writing is a skill just like any other. And just because English may be your second language that does not mean that you should not try to improve your English writing skills.
One of the key things you can do, starting from today, is to read regularly.
Once you pick up a book every day or read the news, you will find that your vocabulary will expand at a tremendous rate. As I mentioned before, all the great writers have a very serious reading habit. So that is the first thing you can do.
And you need to make that first step and just write.
Do not be afraid of making mistakes — remember, we can clear this up with editing — just take the first steps and write something.
Get help from others by finding a writing partner or joining a writing group and you will find this really boosts your confidence.
Good luck and let me know how you get on in the comments below.