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Want to be a Better Writer? 7 Tips to Help You Improve Your Writing Skills

Want to be a Better Writer? 7 Tips to Help You Improve Your Writing Skills

So, you want to be a writer? Ever since reading your first story, you’ve been dreaming of being able to put your emotions and the world of your imagination into words. Or, maybe you just started a blog to express your opinion on all things worldly. Unfortunately for you, even though you have that wish, you may not have what it takes in terms of technical skills. Well, becoming a writer can be achieved through learning and practice. Like any other skill, writing skills can be taught and strengthened over time. Having said that, here are some suggestions on how you can develop your writing skills.

1. Read a lot

A writer is also a reader. If you want to be able to write, you will have to read. Read like your life depends on it. Working through various genres and styles, for example poetry or novels, Shakespeare or Tolkien, provides insights into how writing different techniques can be used. Moreover, this process will allow you to know how to express yourself and create new worlds and characters. The more you read, the easier it will be for you to develop your own style. Also, you will see what makes a great book, how to create a flow and a compelling piece of fiction.

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2. Attend a writing class

If you are a beginner, this is where you could start off. Have someone guide you through the whole process and help you build your writing skill. Plus, as you complete tasks, you will get useful feedback on what’s right and wrong with your writing from the teacher. Your classmates could help you out, as well. Reading your work out loud, in front of an audience, will help you build your confidence as a writer.

3. Brush up on the basics

In order to write, you need to have good vocabulary and grammar. These are just the basics you must master as a writer. Being able to select the right word, an appropriate synonym, or to effectively use complex sentence structure; these things can help make you noticeable as a writer. For instance, you can buy a good thesaurus or use an online source to help you build a considerable vocabulary.

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Other than that, you need to be familiar with various creative writing techniques. So, find a few books on that, too. Learn about topics such as how to write a novel, how to evolve characters and how to write the perfect poem. All of this will be an important part of your education process.

4. Imitate other writers

One of the best ways to practice writing is to, well, copy other writers. Of course, you shouldn’t use their exact sentences in your own work. Imitation, here, implies taking any book and starting to copy those exact sentences onto a piece of paper. This will help you understand how that writer created their story. Ask yourself questions such as: What kind of style do they have? How are the sentences constructed? Even better, this will assist you in growing your own knowledge. As you copy, you will become influenced, and as time goes by, you will be able to explore in further detail and insight a sentence from Sylvia Plath, for example.

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5. Edit your work

Once you finish a story or a chapter, or even a whole book, you should sit down and go through it once more. You should focus on finding errors. As you go along, edit anything you think is wrong. Maybe you misused a word, a comma, made a spelling mistake – anything from grammar to style should be edited. But, as mentioned before, edit when you are done with writing. If you do it on the fly, not only will you waste time, but you risk losing the whole idea and the essence of the story. And when you finish editing once, go through it again. Proofread your work several times before submitting the final copy.

6. Find the right place for writing

Other than your mood, inspiration or idea, one more thing can affect the way you write. That thing is the place where your writing occurs. It can be your garage, study, bedroom, kitchen or even a public place like a café. The choice depends solely on you. Maybe you like to be alone, in a quiet place like your study, or perhaps you prefer the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop. It all comes down to how comfortable and inspired you feel at that location. And, once you find the right one, stick to it.

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7. Research

Do your research before writing anything down. If you are writing a news story or a piece filled with historic elements, do your research on the specified topic. Being too free with the facts, or coming up with your own is wrong and it can lead to a serious backlash. Not only will you be seen as a fool, but you will spread lies, too. The important things is to not make a foolish mistake and look like an amateur.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you improve and be the writer you always wanted to be. And, if you are already a seasoned writer, but you are going through writer’s block, these tips could be helpful for you, as well.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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