Want to write better English?
Most of us want to do that.
Inspite of us, we make certain mistakes that have the effect of putting off our readers.
Many of my regular readers and newbie bloggers often approach me for better writing tips and ask me for help in improving their writing skills. Though I do not consider myself a hugely gifted writer (I still have a long way to go), I do take pride in the fact that most of my content is elaborately researched and painstakingly written. Also free form grammatical errors, speeling mistakes and typos.
Here are a few tips for better writing I would like to share with all of you here today:
1. Read a Lot
Many of my friends and readers often compliment me for my vocabulary and good grip over English.
Now, English is not even my mother tongue though it was the medium of instruction at my school as well as college.
I confess to knowing nothing about syntax, tenses and grammar.
Inspite of that, I often have the audacity to challenge my kids’ English teachers at school most of the time for their bloomers and bloopers.
How then do I mange it, you might want to ask?
Well. You get NOTHING.
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING without hard work.
I have been an avid reader till date.
And I don’t just read. I devour almost anything I can lay my hands upon. Even when I am in queue waiting for my appointment at the dentist, I prefer to pick up a magazine and read.
If not a magazine, I don’t mind the newspaper either.
Now, why am I telling you this?
If you want to be a better writer, YOU too have to spend time reading good English.
You can’t be a champion swimmer till you work hard on it and go for practice daily. You can’t be a gold medalist gymnast without going through the daily drill.
Similarly, you can’t be a good writer unless you are a good reader.
Read as much as you can if you want to be able to write well.
2. Try to Learn, Imbibe When You Read
Try to notice things.
If you are a keen gamer, you must have spent hours on getting to your HIGH SCORE you are so proud of.
Were you able to get to that high score the very first time you tried to play that game?
You carefully studied the scoring pattern, the points, mastered the tricks and a lot more stuff so that you could score better.
Similarly, to be able to write better you will need to OBSERVE how other good writers do their jobs.
Read aloud at least one page a day.
And try to learn one new word every day.
That will help you like nothing else.
Make a list of “New Word For Today” and stick this list at a place where you’ll get to see it a few times every day.
Look up a good dictionary or the internet to see how that word can be used in a sentence. Unless you know how you can use the word in a sentence, simply knowing its meaning would be useless.
Suppose, I see this word nouveau riche.
As I like this word, I look it up the dictionary and see that WordWeb explains it as:
“Characteristic of someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position”
Now, how would knowing its meaning help me if I don’t know how to use it in future?
Let me now try to use it in a couple of sentences.
Wordhippo suggests following two sentences:
- The Langfords were nouveau riche and keen to impress.
- China today is a nation where the poor are becoming poorer while no one questions how the nouveau riche made their fortunes.
Now, make a mental note of it.
If you use a computer, maintain a word document or an Excel sheet where you write down a new word, its meaning and two ways you use it in a sentence every day.
And don’t just write it down.
Make it a point to open that table or document at least once a day and READ it. As many times as you possibly can.
Also revise the new words you have learnt in the last 15 days.
If you don’t use your computer too much, stick a chart at a place where you are most likely to see it at least a few times every day.
I have put up one such picture of the “New Words” outside my washroom door for my 16 year old son.
Believe me, it has helped.
3. Talk in English More Often
I converse with my father in English most of the time.
That helps me a lot. He being a hundred times better at English than I am, it often helps me learn new words and phrases and improve my ‘hold’ over the language.
I am sure you have at least ONE person around who, according to you, is good at English.
Talk to that person in English as much as you can. Even if you make a few mistakes initially, you will learn with time and get more fluent if you persist.
Tell this family member, friend or teacher that you look upto him/ her for inspiration and you need his/her help. I am sure this person would love to play your mentor and help you improve your skills.
4. Think in English
Not only will you come up with funny translations and grammatically incorrect sentences most of the time, you will never be able to become fluent.
This is something one of my best English teachers I’ve had used to say to us in Class VIII.
She would often read out funny stuff most of my classmates would vomit out on their answer sheets during exams, as they first thought in their vernacular and then tried translating it into English.
Though I was too young to realize the importance of what she was saying at that time, I can totally relate to it now. More so because I write to earn a living.
The ability to think in the language in which you plan to write is an absolute MUST HAVE.
5. Research Thoroughly
Once you get all the four basics right (though that is easier said than done and may take a long time from a few months to a year or more), try writing.
Before you sit down to write, look up some of the best sources of information on that topic and read them thoroughly to make sure that you are factually correct.
Unless, of course, you are writing on a topic on which you are an authority unto yourself and you are sure you will come up with something unique, interesting and factually correct for your readers without the need to research.
As a freelance writer, I have written on topics as diverse as dating, gaming, parenting, health, make money online, technology, blogging and a lot more. Even crochet arts and male health supplements.
I have no qualms in accepting that I am not the MOST knowledgeable person around to write on ALL of these topics.
How then was I able to handle them?
The answer is simple- read extensively on the topic you plan to write upon and them sit for a few minutes.
Spend a few minutes and see how you can present the same very information from your own perspective.
And, NEVER ever compromise on that.
Unless you get your facts right, you will not strike the right chord with your readers.
And after you have read from at least half a dozen sources, make sure you write down the best of what you have learnt from them on your topic in YOUR own words.
These, according to me, are the simplest and easiest to follow BETTER WRITING TIPS.
If you are not a born writer, you need not fret over it.
Not many of us are gifted writers like George Orwell and Charles Dickens.
And as hugely popular as Dan Brown or JK Rowling one day.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t write English which makes sense and is free from syntax and grammatical errors.
As a blogger or tech writer, you might not need to possess the most extensive vocabulary in the world and memorize the entire dictionary. But you will surely need to know enough words to be able to tell your readers how fantastic the camera of the new yet-to-be-launched phone is. And you’d at least want to make sense when you do write.
This is not unachievable. You can get there if you are determined and put these very basic better writing tips to use.
If you agree with me and enjoyed reading this article, please don’t forget to LIKE it, +it and give us a tweet! That will make sure that this is read by more and more of your friends.
Try to implement the tips for writing better English I’ve mentioned above into practice. I promise to come up with some more basic rules which will help YOU become a better writer next week.
Until then, GOODBYE!!