7 Tips to Help Students Improve Their Writing Style
Although many of us take it for granted, writing is a crucial tool for communicating. Yes, we all use text and messaging apps, but that kind of writing is often filled with short forms, acronyms, and, frankly, poor spelling and grammar. As a student, you can’t communicate with your instructors and write essays using that style of writing. You need to be clear and concise at all times so the reader always knows what you are trying to say.
However, if you are used to only writing messages to your friends or posting on social media, then a more structured and formal style may not come naturally. Even if you are used to writing in those ways, it might not be easy. Here are some tips to help any student improve their writing style and communicate more effectively.
If you want to write well, you need to read well. Try reading many different types of content, such as academic work, news articles, novels, opinion pieces, and pretty much anything else that will interest you. You will learn by example, and also by a sort of osmosis. Just by absorbing what good writers do, your own writing can improve. You will naturally start to incorporate the sentence structures, phrases, and other components of writing that connected with you. Because of that, your writing will connect with others.
Try a Different Point of View
Some writers get stuck trying to describe certain concepts, scenes, or ideas. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to find the right words to say exactly what you want. One trick you can use is to try writing it down in a different point of view (PoV). If you are writing in first-person, then switch to second, third, or even try writing in third person multiple PoV. Scribophile mentions that third person multiple provides your readers with varying points of view, to enrich your plotline and familiarize readers with what’s happening in your characters’ heads and hearts. As the author, you’re already in your characters’ heads. Third person multiple PoV is what will bring your readers there, too.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to improve at anything is through practice. Being a great, or even a good writer does not just happen overnight. You need to work at it. If you aren't currently writing regularly other than text messages with your friends, then set up a schedule and make time to do it. Many burgeoning writers start a blog. Even if nobody ever reads it, a blog will help you focus your thoughts and work on your writing skills. Your best bet is to write something every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words. The more you write, the better you’ll get.
If you want to write clearly, then try to be as succinct as you can. This might go against your instinct when you are trying to reach 3000 words and it’s midnight of the night before your essay is due. However, being precise with your language will make your writing easier to read and easier to understand. Short sentences and short paragraphs are the key to writing engaging content. Remove filler words, such as “really,” “just,” and “very,” unless you have a strong reason to keep them in. They usually do not add to the point you are trying to make, and will only make the reader fall asleep if they’re overused.
This is another concept that is hard to stick with when you are trying to meet a deadline. However, editing is the most important part of your writing process. After you have written something, go back and review it with a fine-tooth comb. Fix your spelling and grammar mistakes, and also see what you can cut out or expand on. You may also find that you forgot some important points in your paragraphs, or that things do not flow as you would like them to. A poorly edited piece of writing can look bad to the reader and detract from what you are trying to say. Do not skip this very important step.
Understand Your Point
This may sound like an obvious tip, but many writers spend a lot of words not saying anything substantial. They lose the essence of what they want to say, and end up digressing into other subjects, concepts, thoughts, and ideas that have nothing to do with their main point or focus. When you are writing something, make sure that you keep things focused on the point of that piece of writing. If you meander too much, you will lose your reader. If that happens, then all of the good writing you have created won’t make a difference.
Don’t be Scared of Feedback
Having someone critique your writing might be your equivalent to having your toenails pulled out. However, feedback is an important part of improving your writing. Luckily, as a student you have many sources of feedback - from your instructors, professors, friends, roommates, and the writing services at your student center. Get as much feedback as you can, and work to make any changes that are suggested along the process.
Not only should you want to improve your writing, but you have to if you are a student. Getting through school successfully requires good writing, and being in the working world will require it as well. Use these tips to heighten your skills and improve your writing style in a major way.