In my nine years as a professional writer, I am often asked: how can I become a better writer?
This demonstrates that there are people who recognise the importance of sound writing skills in their careers. For good writing skills aids one to improve their memory and retention of material better.
It also facilitates better thinking because writing is a good way to explore relationships and analyze information. This makes a person a better thinker. Of course, writing skills can vastly contribute to success in college and in career.
Strong writing skills enable you to interact effectively with information and also express yourself clearly. This makes you a better communicator in college and at work.
How then does a person become a better writer? It reminds me of a famous writer who was invited to a college in North America to talk on ‘the secret of writing well.’
The hall was full of students eager to tap the magic of good writing. The writer arrived and after introductions asked his attentive audience, “How many of you want to become better writers?” Hundreds of hands shot up.
“I’ll tell you the secret, go home take pen and paper and start writing. Writing is ten per cent inspiration and ninety per cent perspiration.” Then he sat down.
This writer was just communicating what many people know; that writing is hard work. Is there a short cut or “tips” to good writing? There is no short-cut to good writing, you have to practice and practice more.
The other way is to read widely what other good writers, authors, journalists have written. Note well what they have written and how. Of course, you cannot be a good writer if you don’t write just as you cannot make a chair without wood.
There are some steps to follow when writing – whether it’s an essay or a book.
The very first step is to think about your topic. This is the hardest part in writing because it requires focus and discipline. Many writers jump into writing just because they have a good idea. But a good idea must be supported by good and strong thoughts. The next step is to research for material on your writing topic.
Then make a plan of the writing – introduction, explanation and conclusion is one approach. Another one is to give the merits and demerits of a subject and then conclude. Of course, your writing approach will be guided by the requirements.
Then make a rough draft – writing your ideas down as they come without bothering to edit or correct them. Then revise to make your writing better. If necessary rearrange your thoughts on what you want to say.
The last step is to edit. If possible, no writer should edit their work. Ask a competent person to edit your work. If not, do it yourself carefully lest you gloss over the same mistakes. If you have the time, edit the piece after a few days or a week.
This will give you a fresh insight. With these tips and loads of practice, you are now on your way to writing better.
Edwin Maina is a professional writer