Put that Pen and Paper to Work: Tips for Improving Your Writing
Author extraordinaire J.K. Rowling completed the beloved “Harry Potter” series when she was 42 years old, proving that it’s never too late to go after your dreams. On the other end of the spectrum, Mary Shelley, released her most famous work, “Frankenstein,” by her 20th birthday, proving that it’s never too early to get a head start on a masterpiece.
Whether you’re thinking of getting into writing as a career or a hobby, improving your writing is a vital skill as it teaches you to express yourself and maintain a clear line of communication with others, something that’s useful no matter which educational or career path you take. To kick you off to a good start, here are tips to keep in mind to enhance your writing abilities:
Learn the basics.
Refreshing yourself on basic grammar and spelling rules is a good first step. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to be a grammar stickler through and through, but being aware of basic guidelines can lead you to the right track. You’ll find great sources online like Grammar Girl and Purdue Online Writing Lab to provide you with the grammar and spelling rubrics. If you prefer books, “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White is something you can’t go wrong with as well.
Practice, practice, practice!
Some people have the misconception that since writing isn’t a physical skill, it doesn’t require practice—that it comes naturally. While it will be an awesome thing to wake up one morning and realize that you’re blessed with superb writing skills, it isn’t realistic. As with physical skills like ice skating or swimming, devoting time and effort and instilling self-discipline to write on a daily basis can greatly help take your writing skills up a notch.
Join a writing group.
No man is an island, and that goes for writing too. It’s always to your advantage if you’re able to share your work with like-minded individuals. Find out if your school offers writing groups. If not, designate a schoolmate or classmate to be your writing partner. This way, you can get feedback for your work, and even edits.
Read, read, read.
The most respected filmmakers of today like Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo del Toro grew up devouring films. It only follows that if you would like to get more actively involved in writing, you would have to devour books as much as you can. You’d have to expose yourself to the works of other writers and derive motivation from them. Best-selling author Emma Donoghue, who’s famous for her work “Room,” shared that she looked into fellow author’s Cormac McCarthy’s work “The Road” to draw inspiration.
Writers all have their own quirks. If being an ardent book lover is not your cup of tea, you probably just require a different method to inspire your creativity. Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, for example, turns to movies to rouse him into writing. On the other hand, Melanie Banjamin, author of “Alice I Have Been,” revealed that art exhibits are her catalysts for writing.
Now that you’ve gone through these tips, are you ready to put the pen and paper to work? Time to get going!