The good writer: Three tips to transform your writing style from good to great
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Every author, I believe, writes to satisfy an inner craving to share their perspective on life with readers. This drive causes writers to carve out time to write down their thoughts. If you’ve invested your time and talent in creating a piece of work, you’ll naturally want readers to read your work from start to finish. Ultimately, you’d also like them to enjoy what you’ve written and develop an insatiable need to read more. If you desire this outcome, here are three key ways to attract and hold your readers’ attention.
1. Believe in yourself
The first tip for being a great writer is to trust yourself. Your belief in yourself as a competent writer is the first step towards producing high-quality and readable works. Your self-confidence will expand, pushing out any doubts you have in your ability to write compelling, thought-provoking, and wonderful works of art. If you allow doubt into your mind, it will stifle your creative writing skills. In this frame of mind, writing will feel difficult, as though distrust is weighing you down. Conversely, when you see yourself as a competent writer, ideas for fiction or non-fiction projects will gradually enter your mind. When you see yourself in a positive light, as you begin to write, you’ll find that your words flow more easily onto the page. With a positive mentality, you’ll apply what you know about good grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, and setting an overall theme for your articles. In removing the idea that you can’t write well, you become free to be the best writer you can be. Self-trust creates a mental environment that allows your ideas to flow, making your writing sessions more productive and, yes, enjoyable!
2. Use the tools at your disposal
The second tip for becoming an adept writer is to learn, apply, and master the grammar rules of the language in which you’re writing. I recommend that you use the Language Portal of Canada’s Language Navigator (opens in new tab) to find reference material. To quote the website, Language Navigator “gives you access to everything you need to write well in English and French.” If you’re writing in another language, consult TERMIUM Plus® (opens in new tab) “to translate a term or to find answers to terminology questions in a specialized field.” You may wish to consult such classics as The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Roget’s Thesaurus of Words and Phrases, or any book on writing in plain English. I recommend that you choose authors of reference books whose writing style you like, since grammar can be a very dry subject. If you select books that also show you how to structure various types of writing in easy-to-follow steps and apply the guidance that makes sense to you, you’ll improve your writing ability exponentially.
3. Read and write often
Third, read extensively about subjects that interest you, and explore texts written by authors whose works you enjoy. If you read newspapers, poetry, essays, and books of different genres, your knowledge will increase. For example, people regularly compliment me on my vast vocabulary. I built my vocabulary by reading English literature classics by authors such as Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. When I’d read a word in their books that I didn’t understand, I’d look up the definition in my dictionary. I’d notice the context in which the authors used these words and decipher their meanings. In this way, I became knowledgeable. I then used these new words in writing and in speech. The right word for the right occasion naturally comes to mind now whether I’m writing or delivering speeches.
You’ll also indirectly learn about sentence, plot, and thematic structure by reading various authors. You may find, as I did, that you learn how to create outlines for your articles. You’ll even find that you subconsciously learn how to write from the very best writers, simply by reading for enjoyment. You’ll improve by applying what you learn to your writing.
And the more you write, the better a writer you’ll become. During the past 3 years, I’ve written and delivered approximately 25 speeches. However, it’s only been in the past year that I’ve discovered my ability to write, revise, rehearse, and deliver speeches in about three days. This process used to take me two weeks to complete.
I have applied these three tips and have noticed that I write well and with confidence. Fellow Toastmasters can tell that I’m a writer from the way I deliver my well-organized speeches. If you apply these guidelines, they’ll help you to reach your full potential as a writer.
The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.
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