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How to Improve Your Writing

Reading is one of the keys to improve your writing When you put the words you have in your head onto paper (virtual or otherwise) you are doing something much more profound than you may realize, which is why to improve your writing is not just a matter of increased technical ability, but of intellectual ability as well.
Throughout your undergraduate career, though it depends on the discipline and the faculty, you are going to be asked to complete dozens of written assignments. These are designed to test how well you have been absorbing and analyzing the course material. While you might have no problem keeping up with the reading, and understanding the core concepts of the course, the quality of your paper is always going to be constrained by your ability to express your thoughts and ideas.

Writing is not something that comes natural to most people. It takes time and practice to make it better. Anyone who is interested in improving their written communication will invariably, at some point, begin to look back on their previous written work with both embarrassment over having been so sloppy, and pride in having become a much more sophisticated communicator. Each and every single person enrolled in higher education should see it as one of their goals, among many, to improve their ability to write. Below are some tips to help set you on the right path.

Read more

According to the website Literacy Works, there are two ways to become a better writer: read more and write more. If you are already enrolled in a humanities or social sciences course, you’ve already got the ‘write more’ part covered. You are going to be writing dozens of short and long essays. You’ve also got the reading part covered (in theory). Take a look at your syllabus, because all of those links, PDFs, and document files are going to be required reading for the semester. You have to actually read the material in order to absorb the writing skills. Reading is an important part of being a better writer because reading does two important things: it exposes you to new words, concepts, expressions, and syntactical possibilities, and, if you are reading critically, it improves your writing by heightening your ability to interpret, and therefore convey arguments and ideas.

Reading more will help improve your writing by adding to your vocabulary, help you recognize the nuances of language, and make you a better, more incisive critic of other writing and writers.

Know your audience

Good writers are able to tailor what they are writing to the audience they are writing for. Most of the writing you are going to be doing while in University will be academic (in other words, highly formal). New writers at university frequently make the mistake of incorporating certain spoken language conventions into their writing that instantly kill the required professionalism and formality of academic writing. Sometimes you are allowed to get a little bit more informal if you are writing, let’s say, an opinion piece, but for standard research papers, literature reviews, argumentative essays, etc. you are going to need to master the formal tone.

That is not to say, however, that you are always going to be required to write formally throughout your life. Depending on who you are addressing you can include, and exclude formal and informal language as the situation requires. For instance, it is generally not ok to use slang, first or second person (I or you), or contractions in academic writing.

Get into the habit of referring to the third person ‘one’ when addressing a hypothetical reader of your writing. Instead of “you might be surprised to learn that…”, write “one might be surprised to learn that…” If you need help improving, or polishing an assignment you are working on, there are editing services out there to help you take your work to the next level.

Improve your writing by internalizing George Orwell’s “5 Rules of Effective Writing”

20th century political and social commentator George Orwell had a list of 5 rules for effective writing that any aspiring writer, or anyone simply wishing to improve their abilities with the written word, would be wise to internalize. They are as follows: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print; never use a long word where a short one will do; If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out; Never use the passive where you can use the active; Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

The first tells aspiring writers to take the time to come up with new, inventive ways of expressing common ideas. Utilizing cliched, and lazy literary devices makes your writing dull and tedious. The second concerns the tendency of new writers to mistake verbosity for quality. The overuse of multisyllabic, often obscure words is not the hallmark of sophisticated writing. Instead, it is a telltale sign someone is overcompensating. Incisive, to-the-point language should be preferred over drawn-out, what is often referred to as ‘purple prose.’ Be ruthless when evaluating your and other’s writing. The third tells us that good writing gets to the point as quickly as possible. If you haven’t already, you will, at some point, hear one of your professors talk about ‘economizing’ your writing; which is to say, making your words count.

Another common theme among unpolished, unpracticed writers is a gratuitous use of the passive voice. An example of the passive could be “the man was kicked by the horse.” The active (and better) way to state the phrase would be “the horse kicked the man.” Lastly, you should always avoid using jargon, foreign, or scientific phrases or terms when there is an English equivalent. This is the rule that you will have to break most often in university because your audience (your professors) are highly educated, and highly specialized. They are exactly the kind of audience with whom you can use such terms.

To improve your writing requires both effort, and simply more exposure to more writing (which means more reading). Keep the above tips in mind and be highly critical (in a constructive way) of your and others’ writing to improve your writing, and get in touch with Homework Help Global for more writing tips, advice, help, and a wide range of professional essay writing services.

References:

Falconer, E. (2007). “George Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing.” Pick the Brain. Retrieved from: https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/george-orwells-5-rules-for-effective-writing/

Heavenridge, P. (2015). “Why read? Reason #7: the more one reads, the better writer they become.” Literacy Works. Retrieved from: http://www.literacyworks.org/news/2015/6/2/why-read-reason-7-the-more-one-reads-the-better-writer-they-become

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