How To Develop Your Writing Skills To Construct Any Text Without Problems
To have a swift transition from high school to college, you need to develop strong writing and reading skills —but it’s not just your academic success that is dependent on them. You need to practice different writing strategies to slay essays while still in high school, construct any text or message in your future career, and use effective writing methods in your personal life as well.
Today’s educational system is in much need of change. It is high time mainstream school curricula started incorporating the effective teachings of Black history , cultural diversity , and soft skills so that you can come out of your high school ready to embrace the real world and succeed in any career path you choose .
Until innovations in schools are brought about, you cannot miss out on developing the core skills that you’ll need in every aspect of your life. Here’s everything you need to know to improve your writing skills and put your thoughts down confidently.
What Are Good Writing Skills?
Writing skills consist of many facets that go into your ability to construct effective and original texts of any form. Before you delve into all the different types of writing and the ways you can practice them, you need to learn more about the core writing skills, such as:
The Mechanics of Writing—Grammar and Other Skills
Though we often associate the practice of writing with freestyle creative outlets, there is a huge element of technical work that you need to put in your text for it to be considered good. Not only can poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation result in a bad grade at school, but your future career prospects can depend on your ability to write according to these language conventions.
Vocabulary and Word Choice
Writing is a form of communication, so you will need to be good with words and putting them together to get your message across. Having a wide range of vocabulary in your arsenal is not limited to just knowing many synonyms to one word or being familiar with advanced vocabulary items.
You also need to know word collocations and the connotations different words can have. It all comes down to one term—word choice. Your instructors analyze your word choice in the same way they do your grammar and spelling.
|Proper Word Choice||Unfortunate Word Choice||What’s Wrong?|
|I am having a conversation.||I am doing a conversation.||Collocation error|
|I read a great short story by this author, and now I am interested in his novels too.||I read a great short story by this author, and now I am nosy about his novels too.||Connotation error|
|Dear Mr. Smith, I am writing to inform you…||Hey, Mr. Smith, I am writing to inform you…||Formal vs. informal language|
Structuring Your Writing
Even if you need to do an essay of no more than 350 words, the writing will have to be organized well. There is more to structuring your text than just knowing where the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion go. This can also refer to knowing which point you’ll prove in which part of the text.
Think of outlining your writing as of painting artwork. Before you get to the outcome, you need to have the contour, patterns, and a sketch. Proper outlining goes a long way in terms of the flow of your text and its logical structure, which, in turn, makes it much more clear and coherent for the reader.
How you connect your sentences in writing will determine whether your text has a good flow. Think about how you would feel if you were reading a set of broken and clunky sentences. If the writing isn’t smooth, you would likely need to pause multiple times while reading and scratch your head, wondering what the author wanted to say.
Perhaps you won’t need to put on your metaphorical researcher hat whenever you sit down to write something, but to write well, you’ll inevitably going to have to hone your research skills and learn how to find answers to any question you have.
You can, for example, be assigned an argumentative topic for an essay. If you want your point to come across as convincing, you’ll need to support it with credible sources. Otherwise, it’s just hearsay.
Editing refers to analyzing your word choices, sentence structures, or the style of your text. When you’re editing, you should strive to improve all these aspects of your text.
Voice and Tone
It isn’t only creative writers who have to develop a unique voice. Whenever you’re writing a text, you’ll always have a purpose. The skill to use proper tone and voice in writing refers to your ability to fit the text to that purpose.
For example, if you’re writing a cover letter, you want the person who reads it to think of you as being able, confident, and respectful. The tone you put in it determines these factors.
Another basic distinction in writing tones is casual and formal. If you’re texting a friend or a close relative, you will use the former, and if you’re writing a business email, you will use the latter variant.
Importance of writing skills
How good writing skills can help you find a better job
It’s easy to see how being able to express yourself clearly might be desirable in a whole range of occupations. A 2016 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in the US revealed that around three-quarters of employers value strong written communication skills in a candidate. For certain professions, the true figure is likely to be much higher.
If your writing is easy to read and understand, employers will be drawn to you. If it is opaque and confusing, then the same employers will be repelled. This is understandable. If you can’t express yourself clearly in a job application, then you’re unlikely to be able to do so when you’re actually in the role.
Good writing skills in business
Being able to write well will allow you to share your ideas more effectively with colleagues and clients. It’ll help to clear up potential miscommunications, ease tensions, and to persuade others.
Different types of writing and what they’re for
1. Creative writing
The written word is commonly used to tell stories. For many aspiring writers, this is the ultimate form of writing. But doing it right requires a certain level of skill and dedication to the craft.
If you’d like to make your first forays into fiction, then there are few better places to begin than our Start Writing Fiction course by The Open University. On the course, you’ll learn not only the nuts and bolts of putting sentences together, but how to craft memorable characters and construct a plot that will keep readers gripped.
Our blog post on How to write a novel puts the emphasis on long-form writing – so head there for some specific tips. Composing a novel can feel like a never-ending task — but with the proper guidance, you’ll achieve the results you’re after!
If you’re going to be writing feature articles for websites and magazines, then you’ll need to hone skills that aren’t directly related to writing, including interviewing skills, and how to contend with ethical dilemmas. Our Feature Writing course from the University of Kent will help point you in the right direction.
Writing a script is distinct from other forms of creative writing, in that it pares everything down to simple stage directions and dialogue. To stand out, you’ll need a specialised skill set. Those interested in writing for film and television might consider An Introduction to Screenwriting. This course, from the University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, will help you get that screenplay crafted, polished and ultimately sold.
Certain kinds of creative writing present particular challenges. If you’re writing for music, for example, then you’ll not only need to consider the words being sung but the musical arrangement around them. This applies whether you’re writing for a single person with an acoustic guitar, or an entire West End production.
2. Academic writing
This requires a slightly different approach to the kinds of writing we’ve talked about thus far. Most of the time, the aim is to get the ideas that reside in your head into the head of the reader, while minimising the potential for misunderstanding. Despite its reputation, academic writing should avoid unnecessarily long sentences or overwrought vocabulary.
If you’d like to develop the skills necessary to write this kind of content, then check out our advice on academic writing. You might also look into our Beginner and Intermediate guides to writing in English for University Study.
If English isn’t your native language, then you might face particular challenges in crafting your academic writing. Academic Writing in English for ESL Learners is a course that will help to give ESL students the leg-up they need to succeed in English-speaking universities.
Doing this means taking into account the likely prejudices of your reader and anticipating them. It might mean presenting your ideas in a logical sequence so that they can be easily assimilated. Or you might deliberately present them out of sequence to shock the reader into continuing reading.
3. Business writing
When you’re writing for business reasons, your writing will be informed by an entirely different set of concerns. You’ll still be looking to express your ideas, but you’ll be doing it in an altogether different way.
A report is a document that you’ll be passing on to your colleagues and collaborators. It’ll contain an analysis of a given subject, typically one that you’ve been asked to research.
Writing a report well is something that’s vitally important for many professionals. Your ability to communicate your analysis of a given problem or situation might have incredibly broad ramifications for your career in general.
Much of the time, the emails we write constitute the largest chunk of our writing for a given day. Crafting an email is an art form that’s worth perfecting. We often write emails under time constraints. Therefore, having an instinctive command of the language is extremely useful. You want to be thinking about the ideas you want to convey, not wrestling with how best to express them. Our course on Writing Better Emails will help to point you in the right direction.
Again, your audience should be considered. If you’re firing off a quick email to a colleague, then a little bit of informality is expected — and it might even be desirable. If you’re addressing a stranger and you wish to project an air of professionalism, then going for a formal tone might be preferable.
This style of writing involves persuading people. It’s synonymous with marketing and usually ends with a call to action (typically a suggestion that the reader buys something). It’s a close cousin of ‘content writing’, which involves conveying information to the reader rather than trying to persuade them.
Guidelines for good writing
- Write for your readers. When you write, keep in mind that you’re writing for a certain audience. You should write in a way that appeals to the readers that comprise that audience, since they are the ones that are going to read your writing.
- Know what you want to say. Before you start writing, think about what you want to say. Have an outline, either written down somewhere, or even just in your head. This will help you know where you’re going with your writing, and what you need to do in order to get there.
- Remove anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. If a part of your writing isn’t necessary, remove it, or figure out how to integrate it into the text better. You should know what’s necessary or not by ensuring that you know what you want to say in the first place.
- Don’t overcomplicate things. Write things in the simplest way that is appropriate given the message that you want to convey and given your intended audience.
- Write naturally. Your writing should sound as natural as possible, and should not include contrived language or convoluted structures. For the most part, your goal is for the reader to focus on your message, rather than on the writing itself. Good writing will convey your message well, without making your readers struggle when they try to interpret it.
All these guidelines are meant to ensure that your writing is as clear and as appealing to your readers as possible. Accordingly, some of them are connected to each other, such as remove anything that doesn’t serve a purpose, which has some overlap with don’t overcomplicate things.
When implementing these guidelines, it’s important to remember that they are just guidelines. Some of them can be broken sometimes, but following them will usually lead you to better writing, especially if you’re a beginner.