I want to improve my writing, but I'm not sure where to start.
Writing can be challenging at times, but with practice, reflection, and instruction, you can improve. Consider the following advice:
Practice. Like any skill or practice, the more you work at something, the better you will get. Just as musicians and athletes have to practice regularly to improve, so do writers. Set aside time each day to write, both for your course assignments, but even if it’s only freewriting or writing in a blog or journal. Also, sign up for classes that will require you to write.
Get feedback from other writers. We write for others, so it’s important to hear from our readers in order to find out how our words and ideas are being interpreted.
Don’t expect immediate success with each writing project. You’ll be asked to do different kinds of writing in and outside the university. Some genres of writing will come more easily to you than others. And some topics will be easier for you to write about than others. Writers often struggle with writing about topics that they haven’t written about before. They find that complicated ideas and arguments are harder to articulate in words. That is why veteran writers spend a great deal of time drafting and revising; they want to be sure that they are making their points the way they want to make them.
Although different genres of writing have their own distinctive structures, styles, and content, some concerns apply to all writing situations. As you write, think about your audience, your overall goal, and what tone you need to use to achieve that goal and reach your audience.
Read often and read a variety of texts. Here are three arguments for reading to improve one’s writing:
- The more different kinds of writing you read, the more familiar you become with different ways of putting words, sentences, and entire pieces together. As with any skill, if you want to do it more effectively, pay attention to how others are doing it.
- Reading expands our vocabulary, shows us different ways of constructing sentences and texts, organizing and formulating arguments, etc. As you read, pay attention to not only what is written but how it’s written.
- Writing, particularly in college, is often based on the reading we do and on our responses to other writers’ work.
What can the Writing Center do to help?
Our consultants are experienced writers and teachers of writing, capable of giving you feedback that can help you identify what you do well and what you need to improve in your writing. We work with writing of all kinds at any point in the writing process. You can come before you begin writing, while you are drafting, and while you’re making final edits. We’ll encourage you every step of the way, working to build your confidence in yourself as a writer and as a reader of your own writing--we want you to be able to self-identify strong and weak points in your writing. Ultimately, for us to achieve these goals, we’d like you to visit us early and often in the semester. Each consultation is an opportunity for you to practice and to learn more about writing.