Writing as a Life Skill: Part 2

Writing

Some people love writing, others hate it. I think the reason many of us shy away from writing is because we are scared. We are afraid we will make such a mess and embarrass ourselves. Well, it’s a fear I also battle with when I’m writing what others will read… like this post. But running away from writing prevents us from ever getting better at it. I’m learning to quiet the critic inside and just focus on getting the writing done first before worrying about how well what I have written is. Let me tell you a secret: the first step to writing well is to just write first.

I have previously explained how writing regularly will help you think and communicate with people better. You can read the full post here. Let’s look at 10 things you can do to improve your writing, and by extension your life. You become a better person as you become a better writer.

10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Writing

1. Read. Read what you like or read wide. Devour the thrillers, endure boring stuff too from time to time. Sometimes you learn more from a long article on The New Yorker than from a paperback. I keep track of the books I read on Goodreads.

2. Learn new words. Go sharpen your grammar. Use a thesaurus, hard copy or online. Learn from different sources – friends, teachers, movies, books, literature, the dictionary and thesaurus.

3. Practice using new words in your daily conversations. This will help you write naturally just the way you speak. People who read your writing will feel as if you are talking directly to them.

4. Write simply. This point may seem to contradict the two previous ones. Write to communicate, not to impress people.

5. Boost your writing with pre-writing techniques. One technique I use regularly is freewriting. This is writing without minding how good or sensible what you are writing is. It helps as a sort of stretching exercise for your mind, and you also discover interesting ideas that you can build on as you write further. Read about it here and try it out. Another technique you can use is called loopwriting or looping. It is a more structured type of freewriting where you write for five to 15 minutes, then go through the content to identify interesting areas and then write about those in another session. You can read about it here and here

6. Write every day or as often as you can. You should keep a journal in paper form or as a blog. Or a simple daily activity book or diary.

7. Write in another language asides English. Write in Yoruba, Hausa, or Igbo or Efik!

8. Practice writing many different types of writing. For example, secondary school students can write about typical essay topics for Junior Secondary or Senior Secondary examinations in advance. You could even submit such to a friendly English teacher to review. Undergrads and graduates can practice writing job applications, business proposals, and articles.

9. Join a writing community or club. Sometime ago, I joined www.naijastories.com. Members of the community read your writing and comment. Now I must warn that you be ready to absorb some not-so-friendly feedback when you join such a community (See some comments from my own submissions). Do you know other writing club or community?

10. Take part in writing contests. Challenge yourself, stretch your skills. This is something I have been thinking of doing again lately.

And that’s it for now. You can act on any of these points. Feel free to comment or message me to let me know how you are making progress. All the best.

Photo by Negative Space

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