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Writing is a skill not only valued and rewarded in higher education; it is a much-sought-after skill – craft, even – in the real world, needed for the producing of top-notch, professional emails, reports, policies, letters, articles, reviews and even advertisements.
And though it is something taught early in one’s education, very few people ever truly become proficient enough at writing to consider it a skill. It involves not only mastering one’s language but is the product of countless hours of, well, actually writing to the point it comes as natural as speaking.
5 TIPS on Making Your Sentences Shine
1. Read. Read. Read. Then read some more. The more familiar one is with their own language (and with excellent writing), the better their own writing will be. Through reading a considerable amount (and often, as in every day and as much as possible), one is able to recognize truly excellent writing; reading, in turn, is practicing writing, because it is an exercise in grammar, vocabulary, cultural idioms, the nuances, and style, etc. What also aids the developing student-writer is reading beyond what is normally relevant and interesting to them. They should read everything – books in all genres, plays, short stories, blog posts, articles, reviews, the Encyclopedia, religious texts – as long as they are reading every single day, which is the most important habit for the improving student-writer.
2. And, well, write of course – and do it as much as humanly possible. Like reading on a daily basis, by writing each day the novice student-writer becomes a sculptor of words – a master of the sentence. This is, in many ways, like an athlete training for a competition. They benefit from practicing seriously for at least an hour day EVERY DAY; it becomes a healthy, fun and exciting habit, and not a chore, which then may become second nature to them, something the student-writer can look forward to each day because they are doing it well. They should write lengthy letters, long, serious, professional-type emails; they can keep a journal, start a blog, write stories – it doesn’t matter what writing project they take on, so long as the student writes.
3. Learn the basics of your language’s grammar and style. Writing is pointless without grasping the inner-workings of what constitutes appropriate grammar and style, which is a sort of code that most everyone speaking a particular language can follow, understand and read. There are several books and resources for students looking to improve the understanding of their language and how it should be read or written on paper. The Norton Field Guide to Writing: with readings and handbook helps any English speaker accomplish this goal.
4. Read aloud. It’s true: the best writing reads how people speak. And by reading your prose aloud you notice errors, like run-on sentences, mistakes in possessive pronouns (for example, using ‘they’re’ when ‘their’ should have been used), as well identifying misspellings and other errors in communicating an idea on paper.
5. Get and use feedback from others. Quite naturally, writing is a very personal thing, but when the student-writer allows others to read their writing they are most likely receiving an objective evaluation of their writing. Readers, especially those who have much experience with reading, will identify errors in another’s writing, either because they may have a better knowledge of grammar and syntax than the student-writer, or even because they may be more well-read than the student-writer asking them to read their work and are more equipped to recognize errors. The student-writer should beforehand also consider the skill level of this reader, to see if their comments are valid, and then determine if their comments are worth implementing into their own writing. In most cases, the reader’s feedback will be advantageous.
Wish to know more about academic writing, practice in writing different essay types? Read the collection of ‘HOW TO WRITE’ articles:
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