By: Sandy Nene
You’ve probably heard that the best way to keep your writing skills sharp is to write frequently. A lot of writers recommend writing almost every day, but what if you need to brush up on your writing skills after a break or for a writing task you haven’t done recently? Here are a few ways to freshen up your writing skills.
- Read high-quality articles, essays, or academic papers similar to the project you’re preparing to start.
- Do you still have your textbook from your last comprehensive writing course? It’s time to crack it open! You’ll be amazed at the things you’ve forgotten. This practice is a good idea even for prolific writers.
- Take note of the mistakes your grammar and spelling correction software are notifying you about frequently. These applications can become a crutch that enables you to make the same mistakes over and over without them ever showing up in your final draft. You will save a significant amount of time if you can reduce the number of errors in your initial draft.
- Fix your most common spelling errors by spelling the word correctly a few hundred times. To resolve my most ingrained spelling errors, it typically takes about half a standard page.
- Take an online writing course. There are multiple free or inexpensive online courses available that are professor led and have discussion group support. You can choose a course based on your curiosity or next big project, depending on your situation.
Not sure where to start? Begin with the textbook refresher. The process of looking through the book, even if you only skim it, will call your attention to what areas sound the least familiar. From there you can read whatever chapters you feel are necessary, practice the techniques, and master what you can on your own. If you become stuck, at that point you’ll turn toward a writing coach or an instructor-led course.
As tempting as it is to rush through assignments or gloss material, I strongly discourage it. You’re not in school anymore. Even if you were still in school, it’s not going to help your writing skills to hurry. Getting an “A” or passing a pass/fail course means absolutely nothing if you don’t retain the information or gain new skills! Focus on quality and learning not just completing the assignment and getting a good grade.
Where does reading fall? Reading high-quality content in your area of interest isn’t a step so much as a constant need. Researchers who publish read at least ten if not hundreds of other papers aside from their own. Book authors read books written by others on a regular basis. Bloggers read other blogs and comment as well as sharing posts that interest them. To be a great paper writer, you must also be a frequent reader.
Brushing up on your writing skills is something everyone needs to do from time to time. Practice, practice, practice and keep a mindset of lifelong learning to improve continuously. Also, these five tips will help you catch up in whatever areas you feel like you’re falling behind. Whatever project you decide to take on next, enjoy your writing!