Whether you’re caught in the daily email hustle, plan to be the next George RR Martin, have to send a proposal, or you’re the social media expert on your team—how to become a better writer, or even a good, one is something you ask yourself weekly.
Be it a quick email, a 140-character Tweet or a 5-page proposal, you can’t quite seem to get why a sentence cannot end in a preposition…what the hell is a preposition anyway you ask yourself? Who has time for subject-verb agreement when this is due by close of business today!? The technical ins and outs of drafting coherent and effective communications can be elusive. Here are 7 critical steps you can take TODAY to immediately improve your writing skills.
No seriously, READ. It’s what you’re doing right now, and it is the perfect way to help you get through drafting your next email or proposal. If you’re into novels, non-fiction, periodicals—whatever—just read it! If it’s been thoroughly edited and published- chances are it’s a great example of HOW to write.
Follow reliable sources of information on social networks. As quickly as you want to get your news is as effective as news media outlets use the 140 characters given to them. No matter who you “trust,” to give you the news—these outlets often cram sensible, grammatically correct headlines into quick captions. It’s the perfect source for today’s 21st century go-getter who doesn’t have time to read A Song of Ice and Fire or A Catcher in the Rye to brush up on their sentence structure.
TAKE A STAND
Whatever you decide to write about, form an opinion and see it through. Make your position known, it may offend, it may inspire, it may throw people off, but it establishes your voice—and THAT is effective communication.
BREAK THE RULES
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a great rule of thumb (see what I did there?). Much like declaring your position, breaking the rules puts you at risk of alienating your audience, but it gives personality to your writing. Word to the wise: breaking the rules is only effective when you know what you’re doing, and when your content is strong. Use slang, throw in some parenthesis, use dashes to express an extra thought, add a few more exclamations!! It’s OK!
…Wait what? Isn’t telling me to write in order to be a better writer the same as using a word to the define itself? Uhm, to that I say no, not exactly. If you’re truly serious about becoming a better writer—no matter the end goal—you MUST write! Take 10 minutes at the start, middle or end of each day and scribble something that’s important to you. This exercise goes a little deeper than your daily To Dos. A lot of people have been keeping Gratitude Journals, where you write 5-7 things you’re grateful for on that day. This helps you express your thoughts, and it feels really really good!
READ YOUR WRITING BACK TO YOURSELF
So this one is more like 5B,but it’s an important step to improving your writing. Reading aloud what you have written does a few important things (1) slows you down so that you make sure your intent is effectively communicated (2) helps you identify if words are missing (3) forces you to hear how the message will be received.
If you have a friend, coworker, family member, teacher, local scribe in your pocket, send them your work or call them over to read your draft before you publish it.