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How can you improve your writing skills without attending any classes?

I've always wanted to be a writer. However, I've never considered making it my full-time job/career. At most, I would be a part-time writer.
I have two main obstacles to writing:
1.) Time: normally, I would take workshops, free online classes, etc. to help improve my writing skills, but I struggle finding time. I am a full time student who works, and I have a very demanding dog (aka drama queen).
2.) I find my writing style boring. I can write a great paper for school, but usually on topics that tend to be more objective. I struggle finding/using my voice to connect with my reader. I would like to have more intrapersonal style.
So, writers of Career Village, what do you suggest? Should I make it a goal to write something everyday (i.e. use writing prompts, etc.)? Or do you suggest something else?

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15 answers


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Valerie’s Answer

Read books! I find that reading books really helps me with my writing. If you like a certain genre, make sure you read books from different authors - you will soon learn that each one has a different writing style. This will help you develop your own style. The best thing about reading is that it can be done anywhere especially with the ability to download books onto your phone or mobile device. The other thing you can do is take notes. If you think of something that might be interesting to write about, write it down ASAP. I use the notes on my phone to do this. Then when you get in a creative mood, you can refer back to these notes. If you take enough of them, you will find that often times, you will have the content of a whole novel in your phone. Good luck and don't give up!
Thank you comment icon That's an answer after my own heart as I LOVE reading! Thanks for the awesome suggestion! Genevieve
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Brook’s Answer

Agree with others on the importance of reading books and would expand to say read longform articles, columns, and short stories too. Read about subjects and authors that interest you and also seek out topics you may know nothing about and writers you have never heard of. When you're reading, think critically about why something worked for you or why it didn't. What did the author do that you found impressive or what did they do which you found irritable? Do you like this format and if not, why not? All of this will find its way toward what is ultimately your writing style, or writing styles.

A daily writing practice is a goal worth at least trying. If you find that journaling about your own experiences and thoughts isn't for you, try writing a few lines each day that eventually make up a whole story. If that isn't for you, try writing a mock article about something you saw on the news, or a column about a subject you are learning about in school, or a how-to on living with a "drama queen" dog. There's no wrong way to practice!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your encouragement!!! Genevieve
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. I am glad that to hear that you would like to be a writer.
Below are a few suggestions :
1. Practise makes perfect - You can write more whatever you like, e.g. short stories, articles, journals, novels, etc. You can publish on your blog, etc. The comments from your readers can also help to improve.
2. Read more - Read more different kinds of books especially those classical novels. Observe how the authors write and learn the techniques
3. Find out more information on writing techniques online
4. Attend some languages / write skills classes
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the great tips Rebecca! Genevieve
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Ananth’s Answer

Hi Genevieve J,

It is a great and important question, writing is an important skill to level up in career and life. In this post I will go about how I got started and improved my writing skill along the way.

I started my writing by journaling everyday summarizing day-to-day happenings: the good, bad and my learnings from experiences. Moving on I improved it from paragraphs to pages when I started taking detailed notes for different courses that I attended in school and took online, it is a great way to learn complex concepts and concreting the understanding on any topic. Writing helps in understanding the gaps in our knowledge and conveying our thoughts clearly. It improved further by reading books of my interest like the same way as Valerie, I saw huge improvement in my vocabulary, sentence structure, summarizing large content and also improvement in the spellings.

Like any other skill, starting small is the key, things will improve with regular practice, course correction and with quality of content you read and listen to.

Happy writing!

Ananth recommends the following next steps:

Check out some tips for better writing tweet here: https://twitter.com/sahilbloom/status/1506604853652508674?lang=en
Thank you comment icon Thank you!! Genevieve
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Lars’s Answer

Read, but read writing styles you like.
Then practice thinking, texting and even speaking in that writing style.
When you have time to write you'll have a head start.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Lars! Genevieve
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Christa’s Answer

Hi - time is always a challenge to find it seems. A few things come to mind from my perspective when I think about ways to improve your writing skills:

1. Read, read, read. Being an avid reader of all different types of content (articles, blogs, books) is a great way for you to improve the way that you write - you'll know what great writing looks like because you'll be a great consumer of words.
2. Edit. If you don't have time to write yourself, think about editing the writing of others. Your classmates / peers - having a critical editing eye will help improve your writing skills.
3. Practice. Maybe you don't have time every day to do this - but find ways to build this into your routine. Maybe it's weekly at first. And it doesn't have to be lengthy writing. Consider writing short reviews of things on review platforms like Trip Advisor or Yelp. Or consider the emails you write to friends or family as a way to practice your writing.

Writing is a skill that will serve you well in so many ways personally and professionally - good luck in your studies and your career!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much Crista!! Genevieve
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Lauren’s Answer

Reading lots of books can help anyone's writing. I would say another tool I have used is Grammarly. It is a plug-in that will help edit your writing online. Grammarly is very useful, and I found investing in the premium is worth it for my career.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Genevieve, if you can find a writing group to join in person or maybe online, maybe that can help! Having other writers who can read and critique your work could be really helpful in addressing your problem areas. I am not much of a writer anymore but I had writer and published friends and I think joining writing challenges, talking to colleagues and attending conferences seemed helpful to them. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you! :-) Genevieve
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Ghazi’s Answer

Hey Genevieve, that is a great question. I would second Valerie's comments. Reading a lot of books helps to inspire ones learning. Be sure to take notes whenever you have a creative idea. Sometimes the best ideas really do come to us when were not really sitting down to write. Also, take inspiration from your life, whenever you go somewhere whether it be out to eat, out with friends, driving to work, etc. , try and use your imagination and pull inspiration from your surroundings.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Ghazi! Genevieve
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Cooper’s Answer

I think a really inexpensive and easy way to improve your writing ability is to read. I think reading a verity of works from different writers, different genres, time periods, ect. is a great way to expand your vocabulary and gain exposure to different writing styles. Hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Awesome! Thanks for the great advice! Genevieve
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Shweta’s Answer

You can try the following:

-Make sure you’re clear on the concepts you’re writing about.
-If the message is complex, outline it.
-Anticipate your readers’ questions.
-Make Your Writing More Conversational

Hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice Shweta!! Genevieve
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi Genevieve,

CVS interns here, and we think one of the best ways to become better at writing is to read more. Pick something you are interested in because you will stay engaged and it will help your writing even if it is fiction. You can also try looking up samples for what you want to write. For example, if you are looking to write a memo, look up 'sample work memo'. You should also consider asking one of your teachers to look over your writing before you submit it, and revise your writing a couple of times. Another thing that has helped some of us is reading the biographies of writers to learn more about their journey and how they developed their writing skills.
Thank you comment icon Than you!! Genevieve
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Sikawayi’s Answer

Hello Genevieve, this is a good question, but I must tell you the very best way to really improve your writing is to take a constructive class with a professor and allow your work to be reviewed and commented on. What you're looking for is a short cut, and that's not going to make you a good writer this is not a criticism I tried the same thing. The more you write about what you are not comfortable with the better you get at it. Best of luck
Thank you comment icon Okay, thank you!! Genevieve
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Hector’s Answer

People have put it here already and I'll echo - read! And read different mediums - newspaper, books, journals.
Thank you comment icon Thanks Hector! :) Genevieve
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Lauren’s Answer

Reading lots of books can help anyone's writing. I would say another tool I have used is Grammarly. It is a plug-in that will help edit your writing online. Grammarly is very useful, and I found investing in the premium is worth it for my career.
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