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Old Monday, January 02, 2012
azeegum azeegum is offline
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Smile Developing Writing Skills in English!

How to develop writing skills

I am posting this bit of my experience for those who find it hard to start writing as a novice.

First of all let me make it clear that 'writing is an art though yet not a rocket science'.
Based on my personal experience, the following discussion will come in handy for the achievement of good writing skills.


A novice is always hesitant to start writing

If you are a novice, starting to write in informal English may help a great deal.
To better understand the effect of informal writing on your command, you should also know the difference between both formal and informal forms of English.
In formal English, you have to be specific and wisely precise. Therefore the words, expressions, sentence structures, idioms, or phrases, etc used in formal English are limited and specific. Whereas in informal or colloquial English, there is no limit as such. Informal English is a wide blend of all type of words which describe different moods and meanings.
So get ready to go for the informal English first, but that does not mean that you should not learn formal English simultaneously.
As you are going to begin with informal English first, then learning through following channels will serve the purpose for you:

Write (imaginary) letters to friends

You may choose any topic to share with your friends through (imaginary) letters. This practice will enable you to remove your mental block or hesitation as the chances of fearing mistakes while writing such type of letters are very less. Besides, you will be able to use many different words and expressions in English through this practice. In informal English the words include slang, disapproving, or bizarre etc. Writing informal letters may also help in breaking the mental block and removing hesitation.


Write in diary

There is always atleast one or two things which occur in your life everyday and stick to your mind. It could be an accident, a festival, a casual meeting with a friend, a co-incidence, an interesting or a disappointing story, a drama or a movie, a quarrel, a chat, or anything. You can jot down all these things in English in your personal diary. Since you write all these different things in different moods, it will empower your English expression.
There are many other practices but the foregoing are the most useful ones.

It is interesting to note here that informal English is more difficult than formal English because of a wide variety in it. You may find it easy to write a resignation to your boss but difficult to write a letter to your friend in which you have to narrate a story. Remember, once you have learned to write in informal English, then understanding and writing in formal English becomes easier. Be careful that in formal writing, you have to avoid use of many informal words.

Reading affects your writing

As a novice you may find it difficult to choose from a wide variety of things to read. Starting to read something of your personal interest will do the trick in this case. You may begin and try to read different periodicals, novels and story books apart from your course books. They offer a great blend of different interesting titbits of the world. They will help in improving informal English.
Since reading influences your writing, therefore the more you read the better you will be able to write. Infact what you read is what you write.


Use Dictionary

Now when you begin to write, use an authenticated dictionary. 'Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary' or 'Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English' are two of the best ones in the business. Before you use any word in your own sentence, confirm its meaning in dictionary if little in doubt.
To reiterate it, you should refer dictionary again and again AND again and again while you write.
It will enable you to use the words in their correct contexts.
It will strengthen your word power too.


Be simple

Be simple in writing instead of stuffing it with more difficult and irrelevant words. For example, too much use of jargon will make a technical report read complex and boring.



Prepare notes


Note down new words, idioms, or phrases etc in a separate notebook.
Copy and note down the sentences they have been used in, from the dictionary, and use them in your own sentences also according to their meanings. Once noted you should keep reading your notes from time to time unless they get consolidated in your mind. The best way to get them embedded in your brain is to keep writing. When you attempt to write, these words will automatically be used in your sentences according to their contexts.



Do not fear mistakes

Do not fear mistakes while you write as that may hamper your fluency.
Mistakes are most likely to happen and they are natural as nobody is a born-expert.
Get your written attempts checked by your mentor, or a senior etc. Get your mistakes pinpointed by them and try not to repeat them in your next attempts.
Remember, improvement is nothing but avoiding the repetition of mistakes. Mistakes once done are not mistakes but mistakes repeated are considered as mistakes in reality. They say "the wise commit mistakes while the fool repeat them".


How to develop your own writing style?

As a novice you will have to follow the foregoing practices first. In the start, copying the writing style of your mentor or a senior or anyone who knows better than you is a viable idea. You will be able to develop your own style slowly and gradually as you get more into learning it.
Rewording is one the most effective tool of developing your own style of writing. Try to write the whole thing which you read in your own words.


Do not depend on 'translation method'

Translation method of learning is a flop one. It can never benefit a novice. English should be learned in its own sense instead.
Just like the word THE has no meaning in our mother-tongue, but it is used in different senses in English. So one should learn to use THE in the sense of English. Similarly the words GET and SET are two most commonly used words in English language.
GET is used in 27 different senses and SET is used in 16 different senses excluding their idioms and phrases. Check their meanings on the following link.

get - Definition and pronunciation | Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
set - Definition and pronunciation | Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

By remembering one or two most common meanings of these words will not enable you to use them correctly. Instead they should be learned to use in all possible contexts and accordingly. This shows again that English should be learned in its own sense rather than through translation method. To me translation method has little to do with learning English.


Keep a record of written attempts


Keep a record of all your written attempts by saving them in a separate file or folder. Keep reading them from time to time and compare them with your present attempts. This will enable you to make an analysis of your present caliber in writing- whether you have made some progress or you are still at the same position. You can improve with every new attempt of writing, if you practice consistently.



Never lose touch with it

Keep writing on regular basis to master the skills.
If the circumstances do not allow you to manage to write regularly, then at least write once or twice a week. But if it is too hectic for you to even manage to write once or twice a week, then whenever you chance to write something at least prefer writing in English rather than any other language. To sum up, keep writing even by fits and starts, but never lose touch with English. Otherwise you will find it very hard to write that well again which when you get back to it after a really long time.



Now what if you do not have sufficient vocabulary to start writing?

Many newbies more often say that they do not know words sufficient enough to start writing. Here is a solution for them.
There is an unlimited number of words in English which may occur in speech as well as writing which will never be recorded in even the largest dictionary. Learning them all at one time is like not possible as new words are being invented, developed from existing words, or adopted from other languages. So what to do?
Well, in this case you can start writing by learning the most commonly used words in English. This certainly works...
Based on the evidence of the Oxford English Corpus which currently contains over 2 billion words, there are 100 commonest words in English found in writing around the world. These words do not determine the meaning of a sentence. They are known as 'function-words'. You should also know the most commonly used 'content-words'. Both are available on the following link.

Most common words in English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Learn these all!

You may also need another thousand most commonly used words in everyday English after having learned the the foregoing list of words. You can get them on the following link.

Common Words


That is it!

I am sure the foregoing discussion is certainly going to help a novice. If you benefit from it then what I need in return from you is nothing but your sincere prayers for me. Enjoy good writing skills and remember me in your prayers. That is my fees!

All the best and thanks!

Regards
azeegum
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