Hello there. I’ve taken quite a hiatus from blogging to focus on other projects in editing and writing for the past several weeks. In this time, I’ve seen a ton of other people’s writing, both the good and the bad. Now I’m not saying that my writing is perfect; there is always room to improve, for everyone. Having said that, I do strongly believe in good communication skills, which is letting the receiver know exactly what you mean in the clearest possible way.
Good communication skills are crucial for cultivating good human relationships, ensuring smooth workflow in business and expressing your ideas to others. Without it, a lot of time, energy and possibly money gets wasted in reiterating the same things over and over. Without clear communication, great ideas become mediocre ideas.
I’ve consolidated 8 tips that can help anyone start writing better
1. Write About What You Like
You don’t have to write about literature and English in a academic setting all the time. It’s a lot easier to love writing when you write about a topic that’s up your alley. Write about comics, the stars, your rock collection, your favourite Youtube channels. Write about anything; just make sure you do it well. Also, it helps a lot if you write on or participate in a platform like a blog or writing group. These outlets provide feedback and accountability, be it via comments, likes or followers. Keep yourself motivated and consistent.
2. Read More… Really
I truly believe that you cannot be a good writer without first being a good reader. If there is a ‘secret’ to good writing, this is it. This is the shortcut (if you can call it that). Having a reading habit is a passive, but sure-fire way of learning to write well, as it exposes you to good writing constantly. But don’t push yourself. If you’re just starting out, read books at a level appropriate to you and definitely books you’ll enjoy. This is especially if you want to start reading novels and you are new to it. Forcing yourself to read ‘big’ or ‘canonical’ novels just because they’re on some “Mandatory Good Literature Reading List” that you don’t enjoy is a sure way to turn you off the whole thing entirely.
Read widely, too. Exposing yourself constantly to a variety of writing styles teaches you about the subtle nuances of the English language that you simply cannot get in a classroom.
Some of my favourite books I think are great introductions to novels are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. My favourite authors when I was just starting out include James Patterson, Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. A few of my top book series of all time are Harry Potter, Septimus Heap and The Series of Unfortunate Events.
Reading should be fun. So have fun. Don’t pick up a book you’re intimidated by before even reading it, but don’t give up on the ones you’re already reading too soon either. Keep reading and you’ll get into the habit and even find something you love.
3. Edit. Always Edit
The best way to find a mistake? Hit “Publish”. Don’t be in a rush to publish your work. Look through it once or twice at least. For bigger projects, asking a friend to help vet through your work is a great idea.
4. Know the Meaning of Every Word You Use
This is especially if you’re publishing your writing to an audience. If you are using ‘big’ words for the sake of looking more educated or as a substitute for meaningful writing, there are bound to be people who will call you out. Just don’t do it. If you think you need to use a word, check it up thoroughly. Read several dictionary definitions if you need to and examples of the word being used in various sentences. Know exactly why and how you are using each word.
5. Don’t Capitalise Unnecessarily
Okay, I Don’t Know if This is a Just a Singapore-specific Problem, but Something that I have Noticed is that Singaporeans love Random, unnecessary Capitalisations, even when the word isn’t a Pronoun. Then when it Comes to an Actual pronoun like the title of a magazine, they don’t capitalise it. Stop that. Only capitalise words when necessary. Please.
6. Think From the Reader’s Perspective
This is not just about SEO. Give your readers a good time when they come to your page. More likely than not, they came here to be entertained, to take a break from their everyday lives, or to learn a thing or two. Writing clearly and being a resource to your reader is a two-way street. You can only be a great resource with clear writing.
7. Practice Makes Better, Always
Writing is not one of those things you can simply apply techniques, tips and tricks and get better immediately. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not something you can contain in a lesson or two and expect to be good at. Like all art forms, good writing takes patience, time and a ton. Of. Practice. There’s really no way around it.
8. Take a Break From Writing
If you’re in a position where you have to do a lot of writing over a long period of time, always set aside time blocks for breaks. During these breaks, do things completely unrelated to writing. When you get back to it, your mind will be fresh and ready to get past creative blocks.
I truly believe that good writing can change the world. Be conscientious, have patience and work hard, and see how much better communication with others becomes when you are able to get your messages across clearly. Happy writing!