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7 Effective Ways To Quickly Improve Your Writing

7 Effective Ways To Quickly Improve Your Writing

Whether you’re writing a blog post, a short story, or an academic essay, you want to write as best you can. No matter what your educational background may be, there are quick, painless tips to improve your writing.

1. Let other people read your writing and give feedback.

Sometimes knowing you’ll have an audience is the hardest part, but it’s necessary! When other people read your work, they’re looking at it with fresh eyes. You’ve stared at the paper for hours and days! You know every punctuation mark, which means if there’s an error, you might not notice it! Getting feedback from others also means you can round out your writing. If something makes sense to you, but not to others, you know you’ll need to clarify or expand your point.

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2. Practice more, worry about theory less.

Write, write, write! How many people have you met who say they want to write a novel? And how many have actually written a novel? Anyone can talk, but you need to do! Sit down and write whenever you get a chance. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation and sentence structure. Don’t count the sentences in your paragraph or worry about a thesis statement. Start writing and don’t stop until you’re done. There’s always time to edit later. There’s time to read up on style and structure. If you think about these things while you’re writing, or before you even start, then you’ll feel hindered. Writing is too creative for that—you need to let your mind be free to put all your thoughts on paper, and finalize them later. 

3. Experiment with different formats, genres, and structures.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of writing. Try fiction and nonfiction. Write a story as if it were a diary, or try to write suspense, with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger. Write a formal essay, then add some humor to it. Try long sentences with short statements interjected. Even if your final piece has to be in a strict format, play around with it in the early drafts. You might find a new angle to explore, and if not, at least you had fun in the process!

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    4. Read widely.

    Reading is just as important as experimenting. The more you read, the more types of writing you’re exposed to. The more stories you read, the more your imagination will react and create stories of its own. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might not think you like sci-fi, but have you given it a chance? You never know what you might like if you try it, and what might inspire your own stories. Not to mention, the more you read, the more you’ll have to talk about! You’ll be able to participate in conversations about literature—popular and classic!

    5. Experience as much as you can.

    What can you write about if you stay in your own little bubble all the time? Get out and explore the world. Take trips, say yes when your first reaction was to say no! Experience everything you can, because everything can be turned into a story! Even an awkward experience can be spun into a humorous short story or blog post. Be open to everything, and see how much your writing changes!

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    6. Pay attention to the world around you.

    While you’re out there experiencing life, pay attention to the world! Take in the scenery, watch the people who pass by. You’ll find it easy to make up stories about who they are and what they’re doing. Notice the details, because details are important in writing—they’ll make your story come alive and be vivid for your readers.

    7. Find your space.

    It’s hard to write if you can’t focus. Find a space to write, and make that your writing space. Sometimes it helps to write in the same spot every time. Whenever you go to that place, you know it’s time to write. Don’t pay bills while you’re there; don’t read magazines or chat online. Assign a space just for writing. Make sure that space is the best for you. Do you need total silence? Close the door to your office, or reserve a study room at the library. Do you need the hustle and bustle of people around you? Find a corner table at a cafe or restaurant. Find a space that works for you and let the words flow!

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    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

    What is the productivity paradox?

    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

    He wrote in his conclusion:

    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

    How do we measure productivity anyway?

    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

    The paradox and the recession

    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

    Looking forward

    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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