Writing is fundamental to just about every academic endeavor. The written word courses through assignments, exams, projects and study notes; it underpins communication between students, teachers and peers; and it’s a lasting skill with relevance in nearly all workplaces.
In other words, writing is critical. Yet, many students struggle to communicate effectively through writing. Whether they’re penning a five-paragraph essay, typing an email to their teacher or jotting down lab notes, they need help finding the hallmark balance of clarity and efficiency that defines most good writing.
The good news is that good writing just takes practice. It’s an achievable skill for most or all students. In this article, let’s spruce up your writing skills by offering a few straightforward tips. Here are four ways students can hone their writing skills.
Take an Online English Course
The strict pace of a traditional English classroom can be challenging for some students. It isn’t easy to focus on your craft when you’re competing against a clock – not to mention 20+ peers.
By contrast, online English classes give learners the breathing room they need to improve their writing skills. Online courses are often self-paced, meaning students can dictate when, how and how often they study. It can be a fantastic way to work on your writing without feeling rushed or held back. Just look for an ENG4U online course through an accredited online school.
Join a Writing Contest or Online Event
School isn’t the only avenue for practicing your writing skills; students can also find extracurricular contests and events. The most popular online writing event is NaNoWriMo, a shorthand abbreviation of “National Novel Writing Month.” During NaNoWriMo, aspiring scribes worldwide attempt the near-impossible: writing a whole novel in a single month.
You don’t have to be that ambitious, nor should you beat yourself up if you don’t finish in time. Capitalize on the communal spirit of the event to push your boundaries and become more fluent with your writing skills. Any practice is good practice; NaNoWriMo is a lot of practice.
Set Reminders to Revisit and Edit Prior Work
“Writing is probably one-fifth coming up with the stuff, and four-fifths self-editing again and again and again,” according to Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell. This a fantastic maxim for writing because not only does it underscore the importance of editing, the “again and again and again” hints at the discipline of repetition.
Great writing really does take editing – a lot of it. It’s rare to say something as succinctly and engagingly as possible on the first pass. To formalize your editing process, consider setting reminders for yourself. Set well-timed reminders a week before each essay/assignment is due to give yourself space to revisit your work.
Reading and writing go hand in hand. To excel at one, you should take an interest in the other. To that end, students aiming to improve their writing skills should read voraciously. Whatever you can get your hands on – graphic novels, historical epics, magazines, blog posts (like this one) – read them with attention and purpose. By process of “mental osmosis,” eventually, all of that good writing will find its way into your own skillset.
This academic year, sharpen your writing skills and give yourself a leg up at school. Follow these straightforward tips to put yourself on the “write” path.