How to improve your ENGLISH WRITING skill – story from a VIETNAMESE
I am Vietnamese and have been writing, in English, regularly on Quora for a couple of years. After writing consistently for a while, I found out that my English writing skill has improved a lot. Now, comparing my very first posts on Quora and the latest ones on this blog, I can make a big smile, proudly. How much I have gone through in terms of writing style, word combination and grammar usage.
I think that either you’re a professional writer/ blogger or you’re just that average white – collar worker, a good writing skill can be a big help. And you know, writing skill is not something called “born – talent”. Of course, if you have a bit of talent, you can go further and faster. If you don’t, there are ways to improve. As long as you’re willing to open your mind and make a start.
There are two parts of this topic: writing and writing in English. So I will try to put down an article covering both, based on my own journey.
1. Beat the laziness, hesitation and be discipline
Actually, no one would ever bother to watch your shoulders and give a punishment in case you don’t want to improve your writing. It is your own business. Therefore, if you are not determined enough to make it a priority, you’re very easy to fall into the “laziness and hesitation”. First and foremost, you have to understand that you’re the only one who takes full responsibility for this job.
Being able to finish something is more important than trying to make it perfect and never complete.
When you want to learn new things or master any skill, discipline is the most important thing to commit to yourself. So, save a space in your mind and time in your day for this skill or whatever stuff if you want to make a change.
Why? Because I have heard many people say that they want to improve their English writing skill but never really put their mind, their heart and their time into it.
2. Read English with attention
If you want to upgrade your writing, reading alone is not enough but reading with attention. Take notes when you find something interesting, jot down new grammar and “fascinated” words and pay attention to the style, concept and so on,… That’s what you should do in the process to be a better writer.
Do not worry if you cannot memorize those new stuff immediately. Because you know what, just like studying new vocabulary, you will memorize a word after seeing and using it, like, a thousand times. Be patient and keep going, on and on. Until one day, those “interesting stuff” will automatically come out of your mind, from nowhere.
3. Keep a notebook as if it is the best friend
Though nowadays, we use computers to type and smartphones to take notes but a notebook will never become old – fashion. I myself prefer the one with plain page so that I can put down my thought in whatever structure I can think of, as simple as possible, like this:
A journal can actually be a big help to capture all ideas that come up at any time anywhere. Believe me, you’ll never miss a thing or that emotional climax moment, ever.
Also, putting thoughts in black and white brings away all the fears of not – knowing – what – to – write. Because you can use those random thoughts from the notebook as the very first draft. Then, you can structure and organize before officially making it the final writing.
4. Review and edit
This is also an important part of being better at writing. Making grammar mistakes if you are not native is okay but being correct is a way to show respect to your readers.
I used to be a bit negligent but now, I am trying to be more careful in everything I do. I may not be as good as a native but I can always show my best.
One way to make your review to another level is READ OUT LOUD. When you read your works out loud, you’ll realize the “weird stuff” easily and turn them to the right direction.
5. Try different writing style
Do not just use a certain way to express your ideas. But try different ways to make your writing more creative, intriguing and fresh. You may not be good at first applying a new style but practice can boost your work.
And try to use different words to explain the same situation or meaning. For example: if you want to compliment something, instead of using “good” only, you can add more words in different sentences, such as: great, nice, pleasure, thorough, …you name it.
6. Use Grammar Check tool
A small tip: if you are too lazy and tired to check every single word, you can use Google Drive or any program that helps narrow down those stupid grammar and vocabulary mistakes.
Just by correcting grammar and vocabulary, you already made a big movement, before and after. See, it’s not that difficult to be a “master” in writing English. There are tools out there, available and ready to use. Just for you.
7. Be “present” when you write
This is something that makes me fall in love with writing so much. Everytime I want to note down something, I prepare a quiet space, traveling my mind freely and imagining myself at the moment that stories happen.
If you can put your whole heart into whatever you produce, people can also feel it while reading.
Because what comes from the heart will reach the heart.
It never fails.
8. Be original and be you
Just be you when you write. You do not need to intimate anyone else. You can learn from them. But let’s arrange words and thoughts the way you feel most comfortable and mark something special under your name.
You can write whatever you like or you’re good at. Whoever you are, you perpetually have something to share and to inspire people.
I myself also simply write about my own life with my own style. And people love to read them. Even something like “Why am I single?” brought me so much love from strangers.
10. Be patient
You cannot master anything overnight. Everything that costs an arm and legs comes with determination and consistent practice. 10 mins or 60 mins a day will add on a bit to make it around 3% – 5% better. One day, looking back on what you have written a long time ago, you can smile and see how much you have improved.
It works with a rule called “Compound interest” that I have mentioned in another article. Simply by understanding thoroughly this concept already makes a big difference in all aspects of your life.
11. Try to write on Quora in the beginning
Quora is a platform that is created for those who are longing for knowledge. Do not be afraid to try here because no one would judge you. As long as you can share either useful information or a touching story. You’ll be loved and thanked later. Those questions here are also great resources for your writing topics.
Writing in your own diary is fine. Since you are writing for yourself only, you may be too lazy to finish an idea or leave it halfway. That’s why you should write for others to read to give yourself a more sense of responsibility.
One more great feature from this platform is the “Edit Suggestion”. When someone reads your answer, loves it and wants to make it better, they’ll suggest an Edit. You can choose to accept, or not. For sure, you’ll learn something, in one way or another, from those “Edit Suggestion”. I also got quite a number of Edit Suggestion from this lovely platform.
12. Set a time to write daily
This is also very crucial when it comes to learning and being better at any certain area. Because everyone seems to be busy, at something else. Once you commit yourself to enhancing this skill, set a time for it, daily or weekly.
Of course, different people can adapt to different schedules. So, try and choose your most productive time for writing. It doesn’t matter if you do in the morning or in the evening. As long as it suits you, it’s fine. For me, after a while, I realize that I can write the best at around 8 – 10pm. Therefore, I save this time of day for writing only.
You can refer to the concept called “Structure Life” here. This concept can be useful when it comes to organizing your days and even your life, in a way that favors you the most.
13. Practice, practice and practice
Last but not least, you cannot get better if you don’t do anything.
You may not have to write every single day. But make sure that you set that priority to write every time you can. Or at the end, nothing will ever happen.
If you, by any chance, read my, like, very first 50 answers on Quora, you’ll get to know how much I have improved. I was not born talented. I have been working with blood, sweat and tears to reach this point.
It used to take me nearly a week to write a 500 – words post. I also used to make grammar mistakes and vocabulary in almost every single paragraph. Now you can see me and have your own comments about my current level. It did take me several years.
I am not a native English speaker at all. But I made a decision to start. And I think I have achieved quite something. By working hard and making an effort, constantly. Hopefully, me sharing my own experience can give a helping hand. And some inspiration to start your own journey.
I would be very thrilled to hear back from you.